Be careful out there

A woman waved from a pedestrian overpass at participants in an annual fundraising event staged by motorcylists in the Okanagan in early June. Even veteran riders can benefit from new refresher driving courses, the Kelowna and District Safety Council says.

Rising crash rates underscore the need for a refresher driving course aimed at experienced motorcyclists, a Kelowna safety organization says.

Older riders may have a false sense of confidence when they take to the streets, the Kelowna and District Safety Council says.

"Many motorcyclists learned to ride on their own, with no formal instruction," KDSC spokesman William Downey says in a release.

Motorcycle crash deaths rose 50 per cent last year, Downey says, and 70 per cent of the fatalities resulted from errors on the part of the motorcyclist, not other drivers.

More than one-third of motorcycle fatalities happen in the Southern Interior, which accounts for only 16 per cent of B.C.'s population, Downey says.

"Unfortunately, we can predict the profile of future motorcycle fatalities in our region," he says. "Ninety per cent will be men, half of whom will be between 40 and 60 years old. Almost all will be experienced riders who probably believe they already know all there is to know about riding.

"Very few imagine that it could be their names in tomorrow's headlines," Downey says.

The KDSC, where many novice riders learn about motorcycles, is now offering two courses specifically targeted at experienced riders.

The one- and two-day workshops offer new perspectives based on the latest motorcycle safety research. Topics include advanced clutch control, shifting, counter-balancing, high speed braking, curve management, and steep hill control.

The courses start later this month. For more information, see kdsc.bc.ca