Motorcycle Safety Course

Whether you've been riding for years or have just decided to get your license or endorsement, you have your own reasons for being attracted to motorcycles.

The thrill of racing down the highway with nothing between you and the open road but the bike; the freedom of the wind whipping past you; the adrenaline rush you get every time the engine roars―they're all just a few of the reasons riders trade in their safety belts for helmets.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,400 motorcycle riders died in 2009. Is it any surprise then that so many states require drivers seeking to obtain their motorcycle licenses or endorsements to take a basic motorcycle safety course?

Since accidents can happen to anyone, all motorcyclists, regardless of age and experience, should consider taking a motorcycle safety course or training course even if it's not required by the state in which they live. These courses are designed to help keep you from becoming a motorcycle safety statistic.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) is the well-known nonprofit organization that offers motorcycle safety courses to both beginning and experienced riders. The MSF works alongside the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) to improve motorcycle safety and motorcycle licensing procedures.

According to the MSF, millions of motorcycle riders have taken and graduated from an MSF safety course.

The MSF is responsible for the course curriculum used across the country; there are nearly 2,700 locations nationwide that teach MSF safety courses. However, how each state carries out the courses can vary.

There are two safety courses offered by the MSF: the Basic RiderCourse and the Experienced RiderCourse.

Basic RiderCourse

It's especially important for beginning riders to take a motorcycle safety course. Even if you've grown up in a family of motorcyclists, and have been surrounded by Harleys all your life, actually operating one of the powerful machines is a completely different experience from riding on the back of one with your dad.

Taking a motorcycle safety course designed especially for beginners, such as the MSF-designed Basic RiderCourse, will teach you the basics of operating a motorcycle. The thorough motorcycle safety course will provide you with both classroom and on-cycle training.

You'll learn the appropriate gear to wear when riding; how to inspect your motorcycle; how to start and stop your motorcycle; how to maneuver your motorcycle in a variety of driving environments and traffic situations; and much more.

According to the MSF, many states (but not all) will waive a section of your motorcycle exam if you have taken and successfully completed one of its courses. Plus, taking a safety course might impress your insurance company, thus resulting in discounts and lower insurance rates.

Experienced RiderCourse

Even if you've been cruising around on motorcycles for 20 years, taking the Experienced RiderCourse will sharpen your skills, plus allow you the chance to spend an enjoyable afternoon with fellow riders.

During the Experienced RiderCourse, you'll be required to use your own motorcycle and helmet, which means you'll have the opportunity to master your current riding skills, as well as learn new techniques from the comfort of your own bike.

Times may have changed since you first got your motorcycle license, and with a course designed especially for experienced motorcyclists, you'll be able to stay up-to-date with riding trends, safety issues, and traffic situations. Plus, you'll have the opportunity to bounce ideas and concerns around with fellow experienced riders.

Taking and successfully completing the Experienced RiderCourse may also offer you waived portions of the motorcycle exam, or waive your motorcycle exam altogether. And just as with the Basic course, you should notify your insurance company after completion, as you may be offered lower insurance rates.

Additional Education

Aside from the motorcycle manuals provided by most states that have either been developed by the MSF or gleaned from MSF information, the MSF provides a wealth of motorcycle safety-related information for you to further educate yourself.

Visit the MSF Online Library to search through materials covering everything from safety and reports to curriculum and agendas. Many of the materials can be viewed using the free Adobe Reader.

A RiderCourse Near You

With more than 2,700 locations nationwide offering MSF-designed courses, finding one near you shouldn't be a problem.

Always be sure to first check with your local licensing agency for the specific requirements regarding age, training, and testing for motorcycle licenses or endorsements.

For more information and to locate a course near you, search your state using the MSF online site locator.

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