Because of winter weather, there is a large span of time in which it is difficult to ride a motorcycle. Because of this, it is easy for Utah motorcycle riders to forget the nuances of riding they must always be aware of in order to have a safe, fun ride.
“Riding skills are a perishable skill so not only should a rider be professionally trained prior to riding on the roadways, but they should do periodic refresher training,” said Daniel Terry, a motorcycle rider education instructor at Salt Lake Community College.
Many motorcycle accidents take place in urban areas at intersections where a motorcyclist is trying to make a left hand turn as a vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. Terry said that most new riders fail to use proper braking, good cornering skills and obstacle avoidance. These skills are covered in detail in courses available at SLCC. Terry said that if riders gain these skills, their capacity to avoid dangers of places such as downtown intersections increases.
A novice motorcyclist not only needs to know the skills that are necessary to navigate on the road, but a new rider also needs to know the size of engine that is appropriate for his skill level. In Utah, there is a tiered system for motorcycle licenses according to motorcycle engine size.
“The legislature thought that if you pass the test a little bit closer to the inch and size you are going to ride it would in turn make you a safer rider,” said Brian Brown, marketing director at Salt Lake City Harley-Davidson.
Travis Brian is an adjunct faculty member at Salt Lake Community College who has been riding motorcycles for about three years. When Brian first started riding he decided he would get a small 250cc Honda Rebel. Brian chose a small motorcycle as his first bike not only because it was inexpensive, but also because he felt that it would be safer for his skill level. He has now upgraded to a 1200cc Buell. Brian has taken the Salt Lake Community College motorcycle safety class three times.
“One reason to take the class is there are things that don’t stick in your mind and you need a refresher,” he said. In addition, Brian said that it is helpful having the instructors watch you ride so they can point out what you are doing properly and improperly.
In addition to proper skills training and knowledge about motorcycles, a rider must have proper clothing. The leather clothing that many veteran motorcyclists wear is not just a fashion statement. It is also safety equipment. Like the helmet protects the head of a rider, the leather protects the skin on the rest of the body in case a motorcyclist is forced to ground.
“Many riders do not wear proper gear when riding. If they are wearing proper gear riders, [they] stand a much better chance of surviving a crash or mishap,” Terry said.
For more information about the motorcycle education courses at Salt Lake Community College visit the criminal justice department website at slcc.edu and click on the motorcycle rider education link.