The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 27, 2007

Basic rider course increases motorcycle safety

By Bev Davis

Dale Wooten has been riding motorcycles for at least 30 years, but he recently found out there is always more to learn about this popular sport.

Wooten completed training in Buckhanon to become a certified instructor for a basic rider course. Of the 11 people taking the course, he was among the eight who passed.

“The training covered a lot of things riders take for granted,” Wooten said. “It was really an in-depth look at all facets of how a motorcycle operates to how a rider should react in different kinds of road and traffic situations.”

Wooten is now involved in teaching weekend basic rider classes in the Beckley area. Classes are held at Shady Spring High School. Sessions begin with a five-hour classroom study on a Friday night, followed by riding maneuvers on Saturday and Sunday and end with a test on the final day.

Successful completion of the course helps riders earn the endorsement needed on their driver’s license to be legal on the road.

The basic rider class offers all types of practical information, Wooten said.

“We have people come who’ve been riding for years, and they tell us they learned all kinds of things during the course. It’s also a good course for someone who’s never even been on a bike because it teaches them about every phase of riding as well as everything they need to know about their bike,” he said.

Sessions include many opportunities to study actual situations that arise on the road. “We look at a lot of different kinds of situations and talk about what the best measures are to take in each of those situations,” Wooten said. “It really helps riders be prepared for different kinds of road conditions and traffic situations.”

By practicing their skills, riders learn to enjoy the sport to its fullest, Wooten said. “A lot of riders teach themselves to ride. They may not be aware of some of the special knowledge and skills they can learn in this class that will make them safer on the road.”

Practice sessions help riders see how their bikes will react in different situations. “They have to learn to maneuver the bike through cones and negotiate some difficult maneuvers without dropping their bike,” Wooten said.

Riders learn tips on making themselves more visible on the road, how to minimize their risks and how to develop better coordination and balance.

“I recommend this course for anyone who wants to ride,” Wooten said. “It’s a good overall course that covers the things you need to know when you’re out there, so you can react quickly and take the best course of action in a given situation.”

Riders are already signed up every weekend into July, he said.

To register and inquire about course fees, call 1-800-446-9227 or visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at www.msf-usa.org.

— E-mail: bdavis@

register-herald.com