Program could reduce motorcycle deaths

Clark County plans safety course that is not offered locally now.

Clark County has had 11 fatalities and 131 injury crashes involving motorcycles since 2010, according to the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee.

The Clark County Combined Health District wants to reduce those numbers by establishing a local basic motorcycle safety course that can teach new bikers how to ride and show experienced riders skills to protect themselves on the road.

“The big thing is they teach you how to think when you’re riding. Anyone can get on a motorcycle and make it go, but the thought process can save your life,” said Larry Shaffer, a health district employee and a motorcycle rider.

Using motorcycle crash data supplied by the TCC, as well as information from the sheriff and police departments, the health district applied this week for the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Motorcycle Ohio grant that will provide funding to establish the program as well as the motorcycles and helmets needed to train riders, Shaffer said.

If the application is approved, classes could begin in July.

The course would come nearly year after a motorcycle rider was killed and four people were injured in the wreck of after a bike and minivan collided on Urbana at Willow roads.

That same year, William Parks, 60, of Springfield, was killed and his wife Cindy Parks, 57, was injured when the motorcycle they were riding was struck and run over by a pickup truck on West High Street.

And just last month, a 26-year-old motorcycle rider was injured after a vehicle crashed into the bike and then into a building near the intersection of North Limestone Street and East Harding Road.

Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said he hopes the classes provide local riders with the training they need to increase their safety on the road.

“We definitely support this as part of a safe communities program,” Patterson said. “Anytime we can provide additional education which can in turn prevent accidents, it’s certainly going to be good thing for the motorcycle community and the community as a whole.”

The closest motorcycle courses are offered in Troy and at the Greene County Career Center, and the classes fill up quickly, Shaffer said.

He said offering the class in Springfield could encourage more local riders to participate in the program.

“There’s a demand for it, so we want to offer it here. We’re hoping to get the number of accidents and fatalities down in Clark County,” Shaffer said.

The participation fee for the program will be $50. Officials say the location of the class at the Springfield guard base is temporary; they are searching for an area with 140 feet by 260 feet of clear pavement with no parking blocks or utility poles.

Shaffer said officials would prefer to offer the program downtown.

For more information about the motorcycle safety program, call the Clark County Combined Health District, 937-390-5600.

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