By Jason A. Smith
A pair of state agencies are combining their efforts to protect motorcycle riders and drivers on Georgia's roads.
The Georgia State Patrol (GSP) has teamed up with the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) for a new motorcycle-safety program.
Sgt. Russ Covington, who is in scharge of safety education for the GSP, said the initiative was formed as part of a desire by both groups to lower the number of motorcycle accidents in the state.
"We've found, nationwide, that motorcycle fatalities are on the rise," said Covington. "Georgia's no different. We've set a goal to reduce those fatalities by 20 percent [in Georgia] this year."
Although the endeavor is focused primarily on educating those who ride motorcycles, he said, drivers of other vehicles are encouraged to take part in the program.
"If you ask anybody who rides a motorcycle what their biggest concern is, most of the time they will say it is other drivers," continued Covington. "If we can teach drivers to be on the lookout for motorcyclists, and give information to riders, we hope we can achieve our goal."
Covington added that the two agencies have begun to teach aspects of the safety initiative to residents, and have received "good feedback" from the program. According to him, the GSP and the GOHS are planning to present the program at military bases, civic clubs, motorcycle organizations and businesses state-wide.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety issued a written statement Friday, regarding the motorcycle program. In the release, GOHS Deputy Director Spencer Moore said education is a "key" component in reducing the number of motorcycle-related deaths in Georgia.
"Just in 2007, 162 motorcyclists died on Georgia roads and another 3,334 were injured," said Moore, in the news release. "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."
The deputy director said training is available for motorcycle riders in the state, through a course offered by the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
"With a motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license, all enthusiasts will have the best chance of staying safe," he added.
For more details, call the GSP's Safety Education Unit at (770) 229-3422.