Motorcyclists speak out about fatalities

By Marshanna Hester

June 17, 2013 Updated Dec 17, 2013 at 7:29 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- A motorcycle rights organization says reducing the number of distracted drivers will save riders lives. State numbers show motorcycle fatalities are up 13 percent.

For 30 years, Jim Tenhaken has been an avid motorcycle rider. His passion carries over into the classroom, teaching a motorcycle safety program at Illinois State University.

Tenhaken says safety classes are an important piece of the puzzle as more bikes hit the road.

"If you know how to operate the motorcycle safely or in a more safe manner, you understand what it's going to do, how it's going to react in given situations," says Tenhaken.

The state has asked the program to teach more classes, but Tenhaken says no one is showing up to the classroom, wasting his time and an opportunity to get proper training.

"Part of what we teach in motorcycle safety is how a helmet can protect you, what it can do for you," says Tenhaken.

State law does not require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet but you must put on headgear for the course.

Bruce Moore is president of the Freedom Valley Chapter of ABATE.

"I do believe 68 percent of the motorcycle fatalities that happen, a helmet won't save your life anyway but it's about freedom of choice ABATE is and education," said Moore.

Moore says the group works with state police to conduct the safety courses at ISU. The law does not require those over 18 years old get the education, but Moore says it's beneficial for riders of all levels.

"Even being seasoned riders, they took the class out of curiosity and they came back to the meeting and said they learned something," says Moore.

However, when the wheels hit the pavement, Moore says safety is a two-way street. He says drivers need be aware of motorcycles and each should be courteous of one another.

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