AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s the height of summer, which means it’s prime motorcycle season in northeast Ohio.
Hundreds of bikers are hitting the roads, but with this increase in drivers comes an increase in accidents.
About 200 motorcyclists were killed in Ohio in 2016, which is a little higher than the normal average.
Riders say they respect the danger, but it doesn’t scare them.
“It’s dangerous getting in your car, it’s dangerous getting in an airplane — anything you do there is danger involved. It’s one of those things where to me, it’s worth it, it’s worth the ride,” said Frank Rayl from Harley Davidson.
Because most motorcycle crashes occur in crossroads — usually because other drivers either didn’t see the bike or thought they could beat it through an intersection — Ohio is revamping its motorcycle classes to try and prevent these specific types of accidents.
State officials introduced a brand new course last year. WKBN 27 First News Investigative Reporter Amanda Smith took the course at Harley Davidson to see what it takes to become a licensed motorcycle driver in Ohio.
The course revolves around control and preventing problems before they happen. First, there’s about eight hours of classroom training, then two solid days on the riding range.
Different courses can be taken depending on your level of riding. There are courses designed for green rookies, grizzled veterans and everyone in between.
Smith took a course aimed for those who have never been on a motorcycle before, where you learn how to start the bike, use the gear shift and clutch and how to avoid certain obstacles.
The courses start out easy, then the lessons get harder the more you learn on the riding range.
After those two days, you’re ready to take the state test. Smith passed the test, along with nearly everyone else in her class.
“It’s made me a better car driver too, because I pay attention to the surroundings around me and I pay attention and make sure I’m not stuck in a bad situation with other vehicles,” Rayl said.
But before heading out on the open road, you need to buy the proper riding equipment first.
Riders are told to “dress for the slide, not the ride.” This means you should be completely outfitted to improve your chances of surviving a crash. Gloves, full-length pants and a helmet are suggested.
Gloves protect your hands and keep them from slipping. Full-length pants and long sleeves can fend off stray rocks and gravel. Helmets that are Department of Transportation approved can double your chances of surviving a crash.
For bikers, the lure of the road is just too hard to ignore.
“There’s just nothing like it in the world. If you’ve never ridden before, it’s awful hard to understand why we’re so passionate as we are whenever we ride,” Rayl said.
This year, the state of Ohio will issue almost half a million motorcycle licenses.