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Education program promotes motorcycle safety

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

The Georgia State Patrol (GSP), and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), have joined forces for an initiative geared toward motorcycle operators. The purpose of the effort is to reduce the number of crashes involving bikers in Georgia.

Lt. Paul Cosper, a spokesman for the State Patrol, said the initiative is being coordinated in conjunction with military personnel, partially as a response to a growing number of motorcycle riders in the state.

"A lot of people are going to motorcycles as an alternative means of transportation, because it's less expensive," said Cosper.

He said representatives of the State Patrol's Safety Education Unit are in the process of visiting civic clubs and schools statewide, to talk to people about motorcycle safety. One of the main points authorities are attempting to emphasize, he added, is the need for awareness among those who encounter motorcycles on state roads.

"Motorcycles are hard to see," said Cosper. "One of the reasons they are so effective in police work, is because people don't notice them. They can be obscured at a distance by putting your hand up."

In Henry County, authorities responded to a motorcycle-related crash last week, which led to the death of a Locust Grove man. Following the incident, Henry County Police Capt. Jason Bolton said Clarence Farmer, 62, was driving his Suzuki motorcycle when it collided with a Chevrolet Malibu, at the intersection of Ga. Highway 81 and Steeplechase Drive.

"Farmer ... was transported to Grady [Memorial Hospital] by Emory Flight," Bolton said Tuesday. "He died the following day from his injuries."

Cosper did not address the Henry crash specifically, but said crashes involving motorcycles are not uncommon and can have dire consequences for bikers, as well as other motorists.

"People can be doing everything right, and the next thing you know, they have to take evasive action to get out of an incident," said Cosper.

He encouraged motorcycle riders to take the proper precautions before taking their bikes on the road, including wearing goggles and helmets.

"If you're going to get on a motorcycle, you have to protect yourself," said Cosper.

The Georgia State Patrol issued a written statement Oct. 16, regarding the safety initiative, which was announced at the First Army Commander's Motorcycle Safety Rally at Fort Gillem. The release quoted GOHS Deputy Director Spencer Moore as saying recent statistics highlight a need for increased education about motorcycle safety.

"Unfortunately, Georgia has experienced a steady increase in motorcycle fatalities in recent years," said Moore. "Just in 2007, 162 motorcyclists died on Georgia roads and another 3,334 were injured. I know that with the help of the rider groups, law enforcement agencies across the state, and other traffic safety organizations, we can make those numbers go down."

To schedule a motorcycle safety presentation for a civic group, contact the State Patrol's Safety Education Unit at (770) 229-3422.