c r o s s r o a d s M o t o r c y c l e D e b a t e s : F r o m D e a l e r T e s t i n g t o H e l m e t L a w s
There’s been an interesting spike in the number of motorcycles purchased and used that correlates
to rising gas prices—people know that a smaller vehicle, like a motorcycle, will use less gas to get them the same distance as our four-wheeled friends (or in more re- cent cases, foes) do. Learning to ride one of these two-wheeled crafts is a little trickier than getting the training wheels taken off of your ribbon-clad bike. Therefore, some controversy exists over the best way to train novice riders and help them learn the ropes, and there is an ongoing helmet law discussion. But, regardless of which track is taken, most all states can agree…any and all safety education and legislation is better than none.
MSF Basic Rider Courses: The Ivy Leagues of Motorcycle Training Dean Thompson, directo , Communications, The Motorcycle Safety Foundation
he Motorcycle Safety Foundation has five key messages for motor- cyclists: k get trained and licensed k wear protective riding gear k don’t drink and ride k ride within your limits k be a lifelong learner T
the mental strategies necessary for safer riding…and ultimately affects rider choices and behavior. Taking a formal riding class gives riders a head-start on being prepared for the real-life hazards awaiting them on the roadway. Licensing requires demonstra- tion of basic knowledge and fundamental skills necessary to ride.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation en- courages all novices to take the Basic Rider CourseSM as the best first ride on a motor- cycle. This learn-to-ride course, developed by the MSF and available at more than 1,900 training sites across the U.S., includes five hours of classroom instruction and ten hours of riding exercises, and concludes with a rid- ing skills test. An overwhelming majority of states accept this skills test in lieu of a DMV- administered riding skills test.
Some training sites are part of a state-run program, some are independent establish- ments, some sites are located at colleges or shopping malls and some are located at or even run by motorcycle dealerships. Re- gardless of the entity running the site, all of them can deliver quality training. All sites that use MSF curricula are held to the same standards of curriculum compliance, qual- ity assurance, and riding area layout, and must use MSF-certified instructors (“Rid- erCoaches”).
The first message for riders is crucial; training and operator licensing programs help develop safer riders. Effective rider training not only develops and refines the physical riding skills—clutch/throttle con- trol, straight-line riding, turning, braking and shifting—but also helps in developing
Some riders will have a friend or family member teach them the basics of operat- ing a motorcycle, and will practice in park- ing lots or on side streets while in posses- sion of a riding permit. Those riders would take a riding skills test at their local DMV to complete the licensing process, but may not be as well-armed as RiderCourse graduates
with mental strategies that help minimize risk and the need to rely on their maneuver- ing skills to avoid a crash.
Wind Through Your Hair vs. Air Through Your Lungs: Helmets Keep You Alive major Daniel W. lonsDorf, directo , Bureau of Transportation Safety Wisconsin State Patrol
O ne thing is clear. The use of helmets and other protective gear while riding a motorcy- cle serves to mitigate the seriousness of injuries suffered and even pre- vent fatal head injuries to riders that be- come involved in crashes. No one can pre- dict when a crash will occur. If we could, everyone would make sure their seat belt is securely fastened before heading down the road to that crash. The problem is, we don’t know when we’ll need the kind of protection offered by helmets. In most states, the decision to wear one lies solely with the rider.
Becoming a better rider can help miti- gate the likelihood of a crash. Formal rider education is proven to make people better riders by enhancing their skills sets and opening their minds and eyes to the po- tential environmental dangers around them. Rider education goes beyond just skills, by delivering knowledge to the rid- ers about risk assessments they will make in the future on protective equipment, travel speeds, alcohol intake, and fatigue.
Crashes happen for a variety of rea- sons. Unfortunately, they are unpredict- able and often random events—the exact date, time and location is unclear. Statisti- cal analysis of crash data can help us pre- dict some inevitable outcomes of crashes, but their specific prevention is a much harder task. With so much risk in the en- vironment, one would think the decision