Now that the weather's warming up, you might start to see more motorcycles on the road. If roaring engines and the open air are driving your interest, there are free learning opportunities for Illinois residents of every experience level.
Thanks to Illinois Department of Transportation grant funding, Northern Illinois University's Motorcycle Safety Project puts on no-cost training courses from March to October in 12 different regional locations. With 12 people maximum to a class, spots are already filling up. Courses aren't mandatory if you want a motorcycle license, but if you're 18 or older, by completing the free class, you don't have to take state written or riding tests. From there you just head to a driver's license facility to pay for your motorcycle classification Then... Just head to a driver's license facility to pay for your motorcycle classification. This isn't the only benefit. Project Coordinator Scott Haas says some insurance companies give up to 20% discounts for getting this training, but the most meaningful accomplishment is learning how to stay safe.
"You've got the life-saving skills that are taught in the course, the mental processing and hazard awareness skills that are taught in the course that hopefully will keep the students out of the crashes in the first place." -Haas explains.
NIU student Allie Parthie's been riding her motorcycle for a couple years. She took a safety training class near her hometown in Wisconsin, but it cost $20. Still, Parthie says the lessons she took from the class are priceless.
"They teach you everything you need to know for all different kinds of situations and all different kinds of skills that I wouldn't have known or been able to practice on my own or teach myself on my own." -she explains.
For more information on how to sign up for a class, click here.
For the 30th year, Motorcycle Awareness Month is being celebrated in Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, Gold Wing Riders Association, and A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) are teaming up during May to encourage motorists to "Start Seeing Motorcycles" and encourage motorcyclists to make sure they are visible to motorists and follow the rules of the road.
"More individuals are choosing fuel-efficient vehicles like motorcycles as their preferred mode of transportation, and that means more motorcyclists are sharing the roads during warm weather months," Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. "To help prevent crashes and fatalities, we want all motorists to slow down, look twice, be aware of your surroundings and don't drive distracted."
Last year, almost 150 motorcyclists died as a result of motor vehicle crashes. While motorcyclists make up just three percent of all registered vehicles, they represented over 15 of all vehicle fatalities last year. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are almost 40 times more likely to die in traffic crashes than occupants of passenger cars.
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