Ask anyone who has been riding a motorcycle for a long time for advice and he or she probably will offer three major points:
* Riding requires 100 percent of the operator’s attention.
* Riding defensively isn’t an option, it’s a life-saving decision.
* You’re never as good a rider as you think you are.
Gov. Tom Corbett and PennDOT, too, are well aware of the inherent dangers. That’s why the state’s top executive has proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and why PennDOT has initiated a safety campaign that includes flashing roadside signage reminding all motorists of the riding season.
Joining their advocacy for safety are the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Pennsylvania (ABATE) and the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Dealers Association.
“More people are traveling Pennsylvania roadways on their motorcycles, but it’s important that riders and motorists alike are sharing the road safely,” Corbett said.
“If car, truck and motorcycle operators follow simple steps like looking out for each other and obeying speed limits, we can work together to reduce the number of crashes and highway deaths we see each year.”
Unfortunately, 2012 statistics show we’re headed in the wrong direction.
PennDOT data show there were nearly 4,000 crashes involving motorcycles statewide last year, resulting in 210 fatalities. This marks an increase from 2011, when there were more than 3,600 crashes involving motorcycles and 199 fatalities in those crashes.
To balance that data, PennDOT added that last year in Pennsylvania there were 854,493 licensed motorcyclists, a 13 percent increase from a decade ago, and 409,017 registered motorcycles, 54 percent higher than a decade ago.
Motorcycle safety was emphasized with Corbett’s signing of Act 84 of 2012, which requires motorcycle permit holders under 18 years old to take and successfully complete the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program’s (PAMSP) Basic Rider Course (BRC) in order to receive their license.
We wholeheartedly supported that legislation.
The 15-hour BRC consists of five hours of in-class instruction and 10 hours of practical riding experience. The course provides valuable training for new riders and gives experienced riders the opportunity to polish their skills and correct any unsafe riding habits they may have developed.
The PAMSP offers a variety of training to help develop safe riding skills for all motorcyclists, no matter how experienced or inexperienced the rider. The courses include: The six-hour Basic Rider Course 2; the eight-hour Advanced Rider Course; and the 12-hour 3-Wheeled Motorcycle Basic Rider Course.
PennDOT continues to encourage riders to wear helmets and avoid alcohol or drug use, as does this newspaper. Pennsylvania is one of 31 states that gives most riders the option of wearing a helmet.
On the Web
* For more information on motorcycle rider training or to schedule a course, visit www.pamsp.com or call 1-800-845-9533, Mondays through Fridays, between 8 a.m. and noon.
* To help promote safety and communication among members of the motorcycling community, PennDOT offers an interactive website designed specifically for motorcyclists: www.livefreeridealive.com. The website challenges riders to take personal responsibility for their own safety and offers an open forum for riders to share experiences. They can also promise to be safe riders by taking the “Be One Less” pledge.