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Putting safety first, Georgia riders go back to school

Every morning millions of Georgians pack school lunches, load up backpacks and send their most prized possessions, their children, off into the world. We trust that bus drivers, carpool parents and total strangers will drive responsibly, obey traffic laws and heed speed limits. That is a lot of blind faith considering that world is filled with numerous highway distractions.

The importance of motorcycle safety is more important than ever, and for a rider, practice makes perfect. No matter how experienced a rider you are, there is no telling if the teenager in the next lane is more concerned with seeing you in her rearview mirror or the text she just got from Chad, the Big Man on Campus.

We recommend going back to school.

A lot of new riders assume that risk of accident decreases with experience. This is not true. The oft-quoted HURT Report found that the highest crash rate belongs to riders with between two and three years of saddle time. You get cocky, you fall down.

“Whenever I see someone riding in shorts, or sailing down the highway in flip-flops, I assume I’m seeing a guy who hasn’t wrecked…yet,” said Mike Schulte, a freelance journalist and veteran rider.

Schulte got his first taste of pavement exactly two and a half years after he started riding because he was trying to perform way beyond his ability.

“That’s why intermediate safety refresher courses are so important. They keep you from getting lazy, just when you start to develop bad habits,” he explained. “No matter how long you’ve been riding, there’s always something to learn, and it beats learning how to operate a wheelchair.”

There are many levels of training courses offered throughout the Metro Atlanta area for novices, veterans, law enforcement professionals, dirt bike enthusiasts and even ATV weekend warriors. For beginners, classes are conducted on controlled, private closed courses in addition to the classroom setting. Licensed motorcyclists dramatically improve their traffic awareness, everyday riding skills, emergency stopping and swerving skills, and cornering technique.

Motorcycles are provided, but plan on supplying your own helmet, gloves and boots. Intermediate riders enjoy a combination of closed courses coupled with public street instruction.

The Georgia Department of Driver Services, for example, offers both basic and intermediate training and recently added scooters to their roster. Successfully completing of a course may entitle a graduate to a 90-day waiver of the Department of Driver Services’ motorcycle licensing written test and on-cycle test. It does not waive any fees and is only valid for 90 days from the day the course ends.

Chris Carr of Two Wheel Adventures Motorcycle Academy trained a few local celebrities how to ride including alt-country star Zac Brown, former Atlanta Braves centerfielder Andruw Jones, and WSB-TV’s Monica Pearson.

Two Wheel Adventures boasts two locations, one near the Aarons Amphitheatre at Lakewood and is also affiliated with Frazier’s Harley Davidson Rider’s University in Buford, Georgia.

According to its web site, SunShine’s Learn to Ride is Georgia first private DDS approved training school. Located in Lawrenceville, they offer private or semi-private instruction and gift certificates in any amount are available. Harley Davidson of Cartersville offers in instruction for all Harley devotees.

So, even if you are just starting out or have already ticked a few clicks on the old odometer, there is absolutely no shame in going back to school. As a matter of fact, we as Georgia Motorcycle lawyers with your best interests at heart, think it is the smart thing to do.