WINSLOW, Maine — In Maine, dozens of motorists take safety lessons and obtain either a permit or a license to ride a motorcycle.
After spending the weekend at the course and obtaining a motorcycle license, it's no secret the care and attention course instructors put into making sure every student has the building blocks to be a smart rider.
But while a dozen new riders shared their excitement at KMD Driving School this weekend, there are looming statistics that make it even more imperative to be a conscious rider.
Motorcycle-related deaths are on the rise in Maine.
So far in 2022, KMD, who works with Maine Department of Transportation to review statistics on motorcycle crashes, said there have been 27 fatalities for motorcyclists. In 2022, Maine DOT data reveals 22 total deaths.
Instructors said half were alcohol related and some were with riders not wearing helmets.
Willie Losciuto, an instructor at KMD, said the increase in deaths has made him change his teaching style.
"I won't say tougher, but I'm a bit more critical of what they're doing. To be safe and not make bad choices, we can make them learn skills, but we can't teach common sense," Losciuto said.
Loscuito said the biggest tips to be more aware as a driver is to assess your skill level. If you haven't been riding a long time you should take extra caution on intersections and curves.
He also said the easiest way to stay focused on the road is to not drink.
But while the statistics show increasing fatal crashes on Maine's roads, there are 12 new motorists hitting the streets after this weekend.
Alex Clark, who is among the dozen, said he learned a lot from the class.
"When I'm riding around, I'm not really thinking about what type of things to look out for, so I really appreciate this class," Clark said.
Losciuto added that there are 47 instructors in the state of Maine, but he said the industry desperately needs more instructors.
If you want more information on enrolling in a motorcycle class or becoming an instructor, you can contact KMD Driving School.