Spring is here, bringing along the promise of warmer, sunnier days ahead! With that promise in mind, we put away the shovels, snow blowers, and skis and begin to bring out the gardening tools, lawn mowers, and bicycles. Time to enjoy this beautiful season! I’ve already seen people riding with the tops down on their convertibles and sides open on their jeeps…and I’ve noticed Springtime has once again brought quite a few motorcycles back out onto the roads.
Jim, having also seen so much motorcycle activity, told me that YMI insures hundreds of motorcyclists and suggested I write a blog about the vehicle. So, I immediately thought of my friend, Pat Rutkoski. Pat has had a love for riding since he was a teenager with a dirt bike. When he turned 50, with that love of riding still strong, he bought himself a Harley Davidson. I know that he and his wife, Kathy, have had many great adventures on the road, having been to the Americade Motorcycle Rally in Lake George, NY, through Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Route 6 here in Pennsylvania. Expecting to hear about some wonderful riding destination, I asked Pat what the best and most interesting topic would be to write about motorcycles. I was somewhat taken back when he said, “First and foremost, anyone who is thinking of riding a motorcycle should take a safety course!”
Wow! Of course! I should have thought of safety first! Since 1997, both motorcycle registrations and rider fatalities have been on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are over 4 million motorcycles registered in the United States. While that number represents only 2% of all registered vehicles, the fatalities involving motorcycles represent 5% of all highway fatalities (http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/motosafety.html). The NHTSA and Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) work together to improve motorcyclist education and safety; one of the best outcomes of this collaborative effort is motorcycle safety courses. Lack of basic riding skills, failure to use defensive driving techniques, and failure to adhere to speed limits are just a few of the many causes of motorcycle crashes addressed in a motorcycle safety program.
Okay, so I convinced you – safety first! So, where do you find a safety course? There are several here in our area. The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP) was developed by PennDOT in 1984 as a free safety program for PA residents to teach riders the basic skills to help keep them safe on the road (http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/pdotforms/fact_sheets/fs-pub146.pdf). The MSF also offers a rider safety course (http://nm.msf-usa.org/msf/ridercourses.aspx?pagename=RiderCourse%20Info). Two great places to start!
Thanks, Pat, for the very timely reminder that there is much more to riding a motorcycle than hopping on a bike and heading down the highway! Safety first…good thought!!