Since Regina Cahill was 14 years old, she’s been the passenger on the back of a motorcycle. Now she wants to be the one sitting up front.
“I think (I’m going to like) the independence of being able to ride myself and maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to get my husband to take a ride with me,” she said.
She is one of the first Clark County residents to sign up for the new basic motorcycle safety course being offered by the Clark County Combined Health District in conjunction with the Springfield Air National Guard Base.
It’s the first time a course has been offered locally: previously you had to drive to Xenia or Troy to take it, said Larry Shaffer, environmental health services director and motorcycle rider.
The class is designed for beginner and intermediate riders wanting to learn how to drive a motorcycle properly and safely. A grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Motorcycle Ohio will provide funding for the motorcycles and helmets needed to train riders, Shaffer said.
“You’re going to understand how to ride a motorcycle safely, where your eyes should be on the road, how the motorcycle operates and how to stop and take off properly,” he said.
While the course is not required for adults to become licensed, it teaches vital safety skills that can help reduce accidents and fatalities, Shaffer said. Nationally, deaths in motorcycle accidents rose nine percent in 2012 to 3,922 fatalities. Ohio had 150 of those deaths, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Since 2010 Clark County, there have been 11 fatalities involving motorcycles, according to the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee.
Those statistics are why Cahill and her husband want to take the course.
“You hear so much about motorcycles and people getting injured and not wearing helmets and this and that, and I think it’ll be interesting to learn about the safety,” she said.
Classes are 16 hours spread over three days: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The program includes four hours in the classroom at the health district’s office and 12 hours at a driving course at the guard base. At the end of the class, participants will be able to take the skills test required by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to become licensed. If successfully completed, they can take a card to the BMV for their motorcycle endorsement, Shaffer said.
Four courses will be offered this fall, beginning Sept. 18. Participants must have already obtained their learner’s permit from the BMV. The cost is $50 and books, helmets and motorcycles for practicing will be provided. Riders are required to wear long sleeves and shoes that cover their ankles on the course. To sign up, visit motorcycle.ohio.gov.