BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - "Some of it are people not driving up to their ability, some of those crashes involved people not being aware of motorcycles in the area," said Trooper Bryan Lee with the Louisiana State Police.
In 2015, there were 1,951 accidents involving crashes in the state. Eighty cyclists suffered fatal injuries. In 2014, there were 1,934 crashes involving bikers and 83 motorcyclists died. In 2013, there were 2,024 crashes and 86 deaths. In 2012, there were 2,140 crashes and 78 deaths.
One way the state police are combating these statistics is through a motorcycle training program. The first class of the year was held over the weekend, with the first hands-on activities happening Saturday morning. Over the course of the program's 40 year history, more than 200,000 people have been trained.
"There's just no excuse for getting on a motorcycle without getting the proper training," said Larry Ourso, program manager for the Louisiana Motorcycle Safety, Awareness, and Operator Training Program.
They teach everything from how to maneuver the bike to what to where while riding, including of course a helmet.
"You may see a lot of riders today with these lime green jackets and stuff. That's a thing that was not done years ago, but you have to be seen in traffic," Ourso said.
Each class includes approximately 12 students. There are entry level classes as well as classes for experienced riders. On Saturday, some were behind the handlebars for the first time.
"It's fun and it's terrifying at the same time," said Quang Le, a first-time rider.
Part of the class is spend riding motorcycles through marked off with courses. At other times, students are lead through classroom discussions about traffic and driver safety.
"Constantly being alert and aware of your surroundings, never staring at one thing for more than a split second at a time, making sure you're evaluating the roads, the hazards on the roads, and where the drivers are at every second," said Jonathan Nick, a participant in the program.
"I really enjoy watching people learn to ride. There's a pleasure in seeing the lightbulb come on and seeing them understand what it takes and how much fun it can be," said Edward Patterson, a motorcycle instructor.