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Insight from the West Fargo PD: May is motorcycle safety awareness month

With the increase in temperatures; so comes the increase in motorcycle traffic. The West Fargo Police Department would like to offer some safety riding tips for motorcyclists and other general information on motorcycle riding. Whether you are a novice rider or have been riding for years it is always a good idea to refresh your basic safety skills.

Are you thinking about making the commitment of riding a motorcycle? Here are a few things to ask yourself if you want to enjoy the open road on two wheels. Are you a high risk-taker? If you drive aggressively in your car or get angry at other drivers easily, motorcycling may not be a good choice for you. Can you drive a manual transmission? Do you have good vision? Do you have good situational awareness? Are you willing to invest some time into taking a basic rider course and learn how to operate the motorcycle safely, before riding it? These are just a few things to consider before taking on the adventure of riding a motorcycle.

If you decide motorcycling is for you, there are a few things you will need to do in order to legally operate the bike in North Dakota. You must be a state resident, at least 14 years old and have a valid N.D. driver's license. You must apply for a class M (motorcycle) permit which is valid for six months and restricts you to ride during daylight hours without passengers. Once you are ready, you will need to take the road exam to obtain your class M driver's license. Once you have your driver's license you are ready to jump on your motorcycle -- almost.

Proper motorcycle attire is essential for safe riding. The single most important piece of safety gear is a proper helmet that meets DOT standards. A full face helmet with a face shield provides the most protection and comfort for riding a motorcycle. According to, in 2009 44% of fatal motorcycle accidents the individuals were not wearing a helmet. Other protective gear is; a long sleeve jacket (preferably leather or other heavy duty material), full fingered motorcycle gloves, long pants and over-the-ankle footwear. The only thing between you and the ground is your protective gear.

Remember to try and be visible. Other motorists may have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time. Wear bright colored clothing. Make sure your headlight works and is on all the time and be aware of the blind spots of other motorists. Constantly scan and search the road for changing conditions. Ride in the part of the lane where you are most visible to other motorists. Do not ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states in 2010, 29% of fatal motorcycle accidents involved riders with a blood alcohol level above .08.

For more motorcycle safety information please visit;, or

Enjoy the riding season!

Officer Miles Orth,

West Fargo Police Department