MISSOULA, Mont. -

For some, the thought of taking a 750-pound motorcycle down the highway is nothing short of terrifying.  A rider on two wheels moving through a sea of sheet metal piloted by inattentive drivers can leave a rider feeling like a target.
Skilled riders know being “right” isn’t enough.  Every minute on seat of a bike is defensive driving time.

In 2011, Montana recorded more than 33-thousand accidents on the state’s roadways.  Most of the drivers walked away without serious injuries.  It’s a different story for those who ride motorcycles.  In the same year, 410 motorcycles were involved in accidents.  Very few of those riders walked away, 21 of them died.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation reports riders with less than five months experience are the most at risk.  They make up more than half of all motorcycle accidents.  Increasingly, those new or returning riders are over the age of 50.  The baby boom generation is returning to an activity they loved at a younger age.

For those who must ride, there are ways to reduce the risk.  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offes rider courses for beginners and experienced riders.  It’s an effort to improve rider skills and make them aware of ways to reduce risk on the road.  Equipment manufacturers are improving riding gear.  While Montana doesn’t have a helmet law, studies show most accidents happen at speeds lower than 30 miles and hour.  At those speeds, helmets can and do save lives.

The links below offer useful safety information and classes for beginning, intermediate and advanced riders.

Motorcycle safety foundation

Montana motorcycle safety

Montana License Supplement

2011 Montana highway report