As a first-time purchaser of a 150cc scooter, I appreciated Mike Collins's Nov. 6 Close to Home piece, "Saving Motorcyclists From Themselves," which advocated requiring Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses.

Although the foundation may offer outstanding courses, it does not offer online registration and, anyway, conducts no courses in the District.

Giving its over-the-phone "course locator" a D.C. Zip code produced an inoperable number for training in Virginia. Alternate phone numbers for registration listed on the Web site include the main number for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. I eventually reached an actual person, only to find that area courses are booked well into 2006.

When I was in the market for a scooter, I met a couple who flew to another city just to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. As a next-best alternative, I called the foundation to buy some safety-related books. They were back-ordered.

Still, even without a safety course, I passed the District's motorcycle driving test, which consisted of one 30-yard zigzag across the DMV parking lot, lasting about nine seconds.

Mandatory safety courses are a great idea. Access to optional ones would be nice, too.




Obviously, motorcycle lunacy of the sort that Mike Collins described is horrific. But his sad anecdotes notwithstanding, fatal "wheelie" accidents are rare.

Vastly more frequent -- as reports from police officers, emergency medical technicians, actuaries and traffic courts doubtless attest -- are accidents caused by the reckless motorist.

I've been an ardent biker since 1969. I've been involved in three incidents, all relatively minor. Each resulted from drivers' inattention or failure to correctly judge time and distance.

My experiences aren't unusual. Seeing bikers doing a wheelie is.

Efforts to educate motorcyclists are worthwhile. Motorcycle Safety Foundation programs should be adopted by all states. But education should first target the greatest contributor to motorcyclists' death and injury: drivers of cars, trucks and cabs.


Chevy Chase