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Bikers are hitting the books before hitting the pavement to prepare for holiday traffic

Published On: Aug 06 2014 08:33:42 AM CDT   Updated On: Jun 30 2014 05:45:35 PM CDT

Since 2009, there have been three motorcycle fatalities in Wisconsin on 4th of July weekend. In an effort to keep that number from growing, officials at the Department of Transportation and motorcycle instructors are encouraging both advanced and beginner bikers to take instructional courses.

A group of about 20 beginner motorcycle drivers participated in Madison Colleges’ Basic Riders course on Sunday.  The class is a two-day instructional course taught by two seasoned motorcycle drivers. The DOT hopes programs like the Basic Riders course will give students the tools to be safe drivers, especially during high traffic periods like the 4th of July weekend.

“Yesterday, I wouldn’t have driven on the highway with a motorcycle, but I’d feel comfortable doing it today,” Gary Gifford, a student of the course said.  “The instructors are just amazing at how well they teach.”

Twenty-eight motorcycle deaths have occurred in Wisconsin in 2014, according to the Department of Transportation. Motorcyclists can protect themselves out on the road by wearing bright clothing and keeping at least a two-second distance from other vehicles.

“Motorcyclist themselves need to make themselves more conspicuous in traffic,” Greg Patzer, manager of motorcycle safety at the Wisconsin DOT said.

With over 500,000 motorcyclists in Wisconsin, the Department of Transportation wants to encourage car and truck drivers to do their part.

“Look twice, maybe even look three times for motorcycles, especially at intersections,” Patzer said.

Each of the 20 riders at the Basic Riders course passed their class and are looking forward to applying the skills they’ve learned during the holiday weekend.

“The steering and the leaning, while driving, that they cover here really gives you muscle memory so you can do it in real life,” Gifford said.

Thirty-five percent of motorcycle fatalities occur with unlicensed motorcycle drivers.  There are nearly 50 motorcycle driving centers in the state. For more information on Madison College’s riding courses go to http://madisoncollege.edu/motorcycle.

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