Monday, February 3, 2003

Motorcycle Ohio offers instruction


Some believe it has saved lives

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Motorcycle accidents in Ohio are not rising as fast as they are nationally, a fact that organizers of a state training program credit to people following the lessons they've learned.

"We seem to be doing something good," said Robert Secrest, coordinator of Motorcycle Ohio.

The program was created by the Legislature in 1987, a decade after Ohio modified its helmet law. Since 1978, only riders younger than 18 and those in their first year of riding have been required to wear helmets in Ohio.

Nationwide, motorcycle fatalities increased more than 50 percent from 1997 to 2001. In Ohio, they were up 14 percent during the same period, despite a 26 percent increase in the number of motorcycles registered in the state.

Motorcycle deaths in the state peaked at 252 in 1979 and averaged more than 200 annually for the next eight years. But they haven't come close to that number since Motorcycle Ohio began. There were 123 deaths in 2001, the last year for which complete figures are available.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety, which offers the program, said more than 7,000 people completed it last year.

"Education is the answer," said Merv Buttel, general manager at Easyriders of Columbus, a motorcycle dealership. He suspects there are too many untrained motorcycle riders on the road, including many who aren't licensed.

That's something Motorcycle Ohio is designed to combat. The program owns a fleet of 357 motorcycles and employs more than 150 instructors. Participants pay $25 and receive four hours of classroom instruction and 12 hours of training on a motorcycle in a parking lot.

The program is offered from April through October all over the state. For more information, visit www.state.oh.us/odps/mo.




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