It’s now peak riding season for motorcyclists from late summer into fall and there are dangers everywhere. Four of thirty riders killed in crashes this year have hit deer and it’s not even fall yet, according to the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Failure to yield the right of way by the other driver remains the most cited factor in all motorcycle crashes. Given the higher profiles of SUVs which now make up almost the same percentage of the driving fleet on Minnesota roads as cars, those crashes result in more impacts to the torso with riders more likely to be killed in a crash than they used to be.
“The most common mistakes I see new riders make include stalling their engine when starting out, looking down instead of keeping their head and eyes up, being surprised by a curve in the roadway, overdriving their headlight, and getting used to riding in the wind and rain,” said Senior Lake Superior College Rider Coach Marty LeRette. “Since the riding season in northern Minnesota is short, local riders don’t get as much time to practice their skills and other drivers aren’t as accustomed to seeing motorcycles as they are in warmer climates.”
Most of the fatal crashes occur in rural areas, especially the single vehicle crashes where riders fail to negotiate curves and where deer collisions are high. Roughly one-third of the single vehicle crash fatalities are riders running off the road in a curve.
“We all know drivers are a lot more distracted on the road these days so strong rider skills are paramount for all motorcyclists,” said Tamara Arnott, Lake Superior College’s interim executive director of workforce development and community education. “Our motorcycle classes provide basic and advanced riding skills taught by a group of experienced Rider Coaches who give the students the best chance for safety on the road.”
Duluth has some serious hills and new riders sometimes struggle with their motorcycle’s clutch. Cornering, clutch control and starting-out skills are of the utmost importance, and a good place to sharpen those skills are in either a basic or intermediate rider course.
“Riding a motorcycle safely requires the rider to master a series of fine motor skills. It is much like playing a musical instrument where both hands and feet are doing different things at the same time,” said LeRette. “These fine motor skills are also perishable. Most experienced riders will tell you that they are a better rider at the end of the motorcycle season than they were at the beginning of the season.”
Lake Superior College’s Motorcycle Safety Training Courses start late spring and run through September 23. The courses are organized through the Minnesota Department of Public Safety with registration and information available through Lake Superior College.
For class schedule information, check LSC’s web site Motorcycle Safety Training Courses, or call 218/733-5924.