94° F Thursday, July 27, 2017

Safe motorcycle and ATV riding will be the featured topic at the Bastrop Convention and Exhibit Center on Saturday, May 11 where the Motorcycle/ATV Safety Unit (MSU) of the Texas Department of Public Safety will hold their 30th anniversary event.

Motorcycling has been a life-long passion for MSU program director John Young.

“I have been a motorcyclist for 40 years and associated with motorcycle training and education for the past 13,” he said. “When I was younger, a lot of my friends wanted to learn how to ride and I was interested in teaching them how.”

Prior to the state program, motorcycle operator training in Texas started in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, long before motorcycle safety became a nationally or statewide organized effort.

“One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to wear protective gear,” Young said. “Most of dangers associated with multiple vehicle accidents are the drivers of vehicles that are not aware of motorcycles on the road. Drivers need to make a conscious effort to look out for motorcyclists. We are not used to looking for motorcyclists, specifically, as we would another vehicle such as a car or truck. So it is important to be aware of your surroundings and make a conscious effort to look for motorcyclists because they are smaller and harder to see in the traffic mix.”

In 1981, the Legislature passed a law that minors age 15-17 were required to take motorcycle training for licensing. It wasn’t until the following legislature year that the Motorcycle Operator Training Section was created.

Since 1983, the MSU has been providing the state with motorcycle safety training and education, and in 1989, the state department was legislatively mandated to also regulate ATV training. The unit currently offers motorcycle operator training in 80 cities at over 200 locations.

With well-over 500 instructors in Texas, MSU is also responsible for Motorcycle Safety Instructor training and administers two statewide training programs: the Motorcycle Operator Training and Safety Program and the All-Terrain Vehicle Education and Certification Program.

“I chose to get involved in the unit for the safety of motorcyclists here in Texas and nationwide,” said MSU Training Specialist II Terry Graham. “This event is something Bastrop doesn’t get to see very often and we thought we would bring it to a small town.”

Motorcycles, ATVs and other gear will be on display at the event along with free motorcycle safety related items. Attendees will be given a chance to stop and chat with safety instructors from around the state.

Vendors at the event include Southern Metal Choppers, Ducati of Austin, Bastrop PowerSports, AF-1 Racing, Electric Avenue, Cowboy Harley-Davidson of Austin and Napalm MotorSports.

For more information about the Texas Department of Public Safety Motorcycle/ATV Safety Unit visit txdps.state.tx.us or contact 512-424-2021.

“The risk of being involved in a crash is higher on a motorcycle than in a car,” Young said. “A motorcycle has to have stability. You are more vulnerable with less protection. You are not covered in a cage of steal and safety glass and that is why protective gear is so important.”

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