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Parents and Significant Others
The great intimidators

By: James R. Davis

The only combination worse than having either parent and child or a pair of significant others in an MSF class together is to have that combination trying to teach each other how to ride a motorcycle in private.

The more experienced of the pair invariably means well but based on a huge desire to please them the less experienced one tends to try too hard (or tries to strut beyond their ability.)

Relative to an MSF class, despite instructions to the contrary, in the event one of them has an an accident (a dumped bike, for example), it is unnatural for the other to stop and stay in place while an instructor takes care of the situation - resulting in loss of control on a range and potentially a second incident involving other students.

But when this combination of teacher/student tries to do their thing (teach/learn motorcycle riding) outside of an MSF environment is when things can really get dicey. Despite best intentions, the more experienced of the pair can well put the less experienced in a great deal of danger, or simply push them farther than they are ready to go and that desire to please mentioned earlier then can become critical.

An MSF Instructor's certification does NOT make him/her better than anyone else. It does NOT mean they have all the answers. It does NOT mean that without it nobody else can teach a newbie how to ride successfully. What it means is that the MSF instructor has the training and experience (and a safe range and safe equipment) to do at least an adequate job of it. [I know, I've read about and seen MSF instructors who are great intimidators, too.]

If you can, let the professionals do their jobs. And, avoid the parent/child or significant others in the same class temptation.

I recently received a letter from a young lady who had just taken an MSF class and earned her motorcycle endorsement. On a bike borrowed from a friend, she visited her parents to show them that she had just become what they both were - a motorcyclist. The parents decided right then and there to teach their daughter how to 'really' ride a motorcycle. Some of the 'stuff' they fail to teach you during an MSF class - like how to ride in the grass. This, because 'if you are ever forced off the road you need to know how to handle a bike in the dirt.'

She nearly hit a tree at 20 MPH and dumped the bike. Serious but quickly mending injuries resulted to the girl along with a $400 repair bill for the friend's bike.

Need I say more?

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(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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