Although Pennsylvania is still within winter's grip, now is the time for motorcyclists to plan to enhance their driving skills through the 2011 Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program, PennDOT said today.
The program offers courses for new and experienced riders at approximately 70 locations across the state. Courses are offered March through October. A full schedule is available online at www.pamsp.com .
"Through the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program, we are committed to helping all riders improve their safety knowledge and operating skills," said acting PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, P.E. "By practicing proper riding techniques and learning how to handle their motorcycles in all types of road and weather conditions, motorcyclists can further reduce their chances of being involved in a crash."
New this year is a 3-Wheeled Motorcycle Basic Rider Course (3WBRC), which will be offered in Butler, Lehigh and York counties. PennDOT introduced the new course due to the increasing popularity of three-wheeled motorcycles and the unique safety concerns these vehicles present. The 12-hour course includes four hours of classroom instruction and eight hours of practical riding experience. Students must provide their own three-wheeled motorcycle and protective gear.
The 15-hour Basic Rider Course (BRC) consists of five hours of in-class instruction and 10 hours of practical riding experience. This comprehensive safety and skills overview provides valuable training for new riders and gives experienced riders the opportunity to polish their skills and correct any unsafe riding habits they may have developed. Students taking the BRC are provided a motorcycle and helmet; however, students are responsible for providing all other protective gear.
If a rider has completed the BRC, the six-hour Basic Rider Course 2 (BRC2), formerly known as the Experienced Rider Course, allows skilled riders to refresh their safety knowledge and hone their on-road skills. Riders taking the BRC2 are permitted to carry a passenger while practicing balance and steering techniques in a controlled environment. Students taking the BRC2 must provide their own motorcycle and protective gear.
All PAMSP courses, including the new 3WBRC, are free to Pennsylvania residents who have a motorcycle learner's permit or motorcycle license. All training courses are conducted on a riding range, under the management of certified rider coaches.
To enroll in a course, individuals must have either a motorcycle learner's permit or license. Motorcycle learner's permit holders who successfully complete a course will be issued a motorcycle license. Those who successfully pass their skills test on a three-wheeled motorcycle will be issued a motorcycle license with a "9" restriction, meaning they are prohibited from operating a two-wheeled motorcycle.
For more information and to enroll in a course, visit www.pamsp.com  or call 1-800-845-9533, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and noon. -
Riders are also encouraged to visit www.LiveFreeRideAlive.com , an interactive website designed specifically for motorcyclists. The website challenges riders to take personal responsibility for their own safety.
The site allows visitors to view a documentary featuring several Pennsylvania riders, their family members and friends, and share their riding experiences and lessons about what they've learned. Riders also have the ability to take the "Be One Less" pledge, in which riders strive to be "one less" crash statistic in honor of motorcyclists who have been injured or killed in crashes.