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Changes coming to Washington's motorcycle endorsement process

New rules and regulations for motorcyclist safety go into effect in Washington state in 2020.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Editor's note: The video above is from July 2019. 

Washington state residents going for their motorcycle endorsement must jump through a few more hoops before they can legally ride starting Jan. 1. 

Beginning in 2020, drivers must pass a basic knowledge and skills exam to receive a permit and advanced knowledge and skills exam for an endorsement. 

Additionally, people caught driving a motorcycle without the proper endorsements face higher fines. 

The monetary base penalty for driving a motorcycle without an endorsement is $48, with up to $136 total after fees and assessments. Under the new state rule, motorcyclists face an additional penalty of $250 for driving without proper endorsements. 

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Under the amended rules, the Department of Licensing is also required to adopt rules to establish a motorcycle subsidy program, which may "address testing costs, offer financial need-based subsidies for motorcycle training, and employ other strategies to improve access to motorcycle ridership."

The goal of the legislation is to move the state close to its Target Zero goal of eliminating fatalities and serious injury crashes on the state's roads by 2030. 

According to the 2019 Target Zero plan, however, "Washington's traffic fatality and serious injury trend is going in the wrong direction." Compared to 2012-2014, traffic fatalities increased by 23% and serious injuries increased by 7% during the three-year period of 2015-2017. 

Motorcycles comprise about 3% of registered vehicles in the state but accounted for 14% of all fatalities and 19% of serious injury crashes between 2015-2017, according to the Target Zero plan.