JSO offers free motorcycle course to make riding safer

Classes taught by motor officers who ride for a living

JSO is offering a free training class for motorcyclist to be safe and feel more confident on their bike.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida has the second-highest number of motorcycle registrations in the nation -- one spot down from California and one ahead of Texas.

I am one of those registered riders and have been since my late teens. A motorcycle was my main source of transportation for a couple of years. My part-time job took me on a 60-mile round trip while attending school. All of that riding totaled 15,000-18,000 miles annually.

I do not log that kind of yearly miles these days and maybe that is a good thing. With congested roads and distracted drivers in a hurry, there are too many unfortunate accidents. When those accidents involve motorcycles, serious injuries and deaths are all too common.

RELATED: 8 motorcyclists die on Northeast Florida roads in 30 days

What if there was a local course taught by professional riders that could help you improve your riding skills? What if just one of those skills could save your life? Would you invest your time to improve your riding skills? What if the course was free?

I hope that last item got your attention. It’s FREE!

Jacksonville is now home to the Safe Motorcycle and Rider Techniques (SMART) safety course. The goal of the training is to help students demonstrate safe motorcycle riding techniques by negotiating commonly found street riding situations in a controlled and skill-oriented manner.

Training is broken down into objectives that focus on the primary areas that can be applied to any aspect of motorcycle riding. These include the proper use of head and eyes during turning, dipping the bike to facilitate transitioning, leaning the bike to make tighter turns, and properly employing the clutch, throttle and brake to work within the motorcycle’s “gray” area.

The training is conducted in a closed course at the police academy on the Northside and taught by highly trained law enforcement motor officers using the very same techniques that place them in the top 5% of all riders. You ride your own motorcycle and all costs are covered by the Florida Department of Transportation.

You will receive attention that positively reinforces the skills the course tries to improve. By working together, we can lower the number of motorcycle-related fatalities and crashes.

My experience was eye-opening. I learned some of the habits I thought were helping me actually could put me in danger. One of those is how I rely too much on my front brakes. This habit could be potentially dangerous for Luvbug and I, especially if an incident occurred while negotiating a curve.

Let me say it again, the SMART course is FREE. It’s taught by people that will log more miles in a day than most of us will do in a month. And it’s FUN.

Enrollment is open for the May 15 class and two classes in June. For more information and to register visit jaxsheriff.org/Bizforms/S-M-A-R-T-Motorcycle-Safety-Course.aspx

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