There were 162 motorcycle fatalities in Ohio during 2012-down from a peak of 200 fatalities in 2008, according to the latest figures from the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
That decrease is likely due in part to stepped-up efforts to educate motorcyclists about safe operation of their two-wheeled vehicles through the state's Motorcycle Ohio Program.
"People have a misunderstanding that all we talk about is wearing helmets and don't drink and ride. But this is a full three-day how to ride a motorcycle class that provides all the basic skills needed to safely operate a motorcycle," said Gil Moore, certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor for the program.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Pam Sciance, left, rides her Honda scooter with fellow motorcyclists during a Motorcycle Ohio safety course in the Marietta High School parking lot Sunday morning.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Shane Crum of Caldwell, front, leads a couple of classmates for a practice run during a Motorcycle Ohio safety course in the Marietta High School parking lot Sunday.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Jeremy Howell of Marietta rides his motorcycle past instructor Gil Moore who was wrapping up a weekend Basic Rider Course for Motorcycle Ohio Sunday.
Moore was wrapping up a three-day Basic Rider Course with six students in the Marietta High School parking lot Sunday. The courses are provided through a partnership with Washington State Community College.
Moore was putting the class through a curvy course laid out on the MHS parking lot designed to teach some turning skills.
"An estimated 37 percent of motorcycle fatalities are single-vehicle accidents that occur because the driver lost control in a curve," he said. "So we try to hammer in the proper turning techniques as part of this course."
To obtain an Ohio motorcycle license:
- Take an exam to obtain a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC). Study manuals are available at any license agency, exam station or online at bmv.oh.gov
- On successful completion of the knowledge exam, purchase the TIPIC ($22) at a Bureau of Motor Vehicles license agency. The TIPIC is valid for one year.
- With the TIPIC contact a driver license exam station and make appointment, or visit ohiodrivingtest.com for the skills test. No charge for the test.
- You must bring a street-legal motorcycle to the exam site and wear a Department of Transportation approved helmet and eye protection during the test.
- Ages 16 or 17 must show proof of completing a driver education course and a motorcycle safety education course. Ages 18 or older are not required to take either course to take the skills test. Contact Motorcycle Ohio at 800-83-RIDER to take a motorcycle safety education course.
- After all required tests are passed, proceed to the Deputy Registrar with your TIPIC and drivers license.
- Motorcycle Ohio course graduates will have the State of Ohio skills test waived upon successful completion of the Basic Rider Course.
- The three-day Basic Rider Course in Marietta costs $50 and runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Course dates, schedules and more details are available at motorcycle.ohio.gov or contact Washington State Community College (740) 568-1936.
- Motorcycle course instructors are also needed in Southeast Ohio. For more information visit the web site or call WSCC at the number listed above.
Source: Motorcycle Ohio Program
Moore said anyone who can ride a bicycle can learn to ride a motorcycle.
"Motorcycle Ohio provides the motorcycles and helmets for the course," he said. "Students must be able to ride a bicycle and have a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC)."
The TIPIC, good for one year, is obtained by taking a knowledge exam through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, then paying a $22 fee for the permit. The Basic Rider Course costs $50, but it's well worth it, according to the students with whom Moore was working this weekend.
"I wanted to buy a motorcycle, but needed to learn the right way to ride first-in addition your insurance cost goes down by taking this course," said Larry Proctor, 67, of Marietta.
Fellow student Pam Sciance, 30, of Marietta brought her Honda scooter to the weekend class.
"I've been riding for 11 months now, but have always been interested in riding motorcycles," she said. "I wanted to take this class to maintain my license and to learn new skills. And I was kind of nervous about taking the state skills test."
As an incentive to new riders, the state will waive a mandatory skills exam for those who pass the Basic Rider Course before applying for a motorcycle endorsement on their vehicle operators licenses.
The course is not only for new riders, though. Jeremy Howell, 39, of Marietta said he's ridden motorcycles in the past.
"I've had bikes before, but haven't ridden for about 10 years or more now, so I wanted to brush up on my skills, too," he said. "And this course makes me feel more comfortable getting back on a motorcycle."
Shane Crum, 20, of Caldwell, was the youngest of the group who took the basic course over the weekend.
"I've been riding my dad's bike some around home, but he wanted me to learn the basics before allowing me to take it out on the highways," he said.
Moore, who's been riding motorcycles for 30 years and teaching the courses for the last nine years, has seen all age groups taking the riding classes.
"I've taught an 87-year-old man and a 78-year-old woman to ride, and both passed the final exam," he said.
Although the Basic Rider Course is available most weekends through the warmer months, other advanced motorcycle riding courses will also be taught after July 1, according to John Burdette, director of public safety training at WSCC and an instructor for the Basic Rider Course.
A Basic Riding Course 2 (BRC-2) and an Advanced Rider Course will be added. Burdette said those classes for will start July 20 for the BRC-2 and Aug. 9 for the advanced course.
Moore said most classes have two instructors and about 12 students. But he noted instructors are needed by Motorcycle Ohio, especially in the southeast area of the state.
Instructors should have at least three years riding experience and are required to take classes for four weekends in Columbus to become certified. He said anyone interested can find more information on the motorcycle.ohio.gov website.
The Motorcycle Ohio Program celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013.