NIU project to focus on motorcycle safety

By Carol Ekstrom

The start of spring will soon be here and the warmer days will inevitably bring the hundreds of motorcycles that have been in hiding during the winter months.

NIU’s Motorcycle Safety Project will soon be underway to teach beginning riders basic skills and help experienced riders brush up on skills that they may have forgotten during the winter season.

Director of Motorcycle Safety Robin Carson said the classes offered last year were filled to capacity and early registration this year is recommended.

“Each course can only allow a limited number of people and this year could be worse because of the tighter budget,” he said.

The program is sponsored by and administered through the Illinois Department of Transportation traffic safety division in Springfield.

Coordinator for the project Greg Smith said the Motorcycle Safety Project benefits everyone involved.

“Beginners will acquire skills that will enable them to be careful cyclists,” he said. “Experienced cyclists taking the course can brush up on their skills after the long winter season.”

Smith said the Motorcycle Safety Office promotes the use of helmets for the program, but they “stand neutral on the legislation of making helmets mandatory in Illinois.”

Carson said there are added benefits to participating in the sessions besides gaining experience in riding.

“Many insurance companies offer a 10 percent discount to

cyclists who have completed this program,” he said.

Another benefit is that drivers over the age of 18 will be exempt from the driving portion of their driving test if this course is completed successfully, he said.

Carson said 15 sites for the classes are being organized throughout northern Illinois for this year’s NIU courses. The sessions are usually held in unobstructed parking lots on weekends and evenings.

NIU is one of four coordinating campuses in the state for the safety program.

Anyone interested in participating in the program must first call toll-free to 1-800-892-9607 to receive a brochure and then sign up.