More Women Driving Motorcycles 

Benita Schmitt says the best parts of riding her motorcycle are “the wind and the sunshine.”The open road has long attracted riders. And as more take to the roads, the faces of people driving those motorcycles are changing. Women now make up ten percent of the country’s riding population. Women like Aimee Houtari.”People will come up to me, guys will come up to me, and say, ‘Is that your motorcycle?'” Houtari says. “That’s my motorcycle. And they just seem really fascinated, even now.”Women would “rather drive, than ride on the back of their husband or partner’s motorcycle,” Schmitt says.More women are enrolling in local training courses. Eric Curtis at Central Maine Harley Davidson says over the past two years his classes have grown to 70 percent women — of all ages. “Their kids are out of college, out of high school. It’s their second life, they always wanted to do this,” Curtis says.”I think it’s very liberating for a woman to take charge,” Houtari says.But with more people on the road in general, whether you’re male or female, what’s important is keeping everyone safe.”There’s no air bags, there’s no seat belt,” Curtis says.”Motorcycle fatalities have doubled in the last 10 years,” says Russell Chretien, of Allstate insurance in Bangor. “We see a lot of claims, and a lot of avoidable claims.”He says obstacles like potholes, sand, even a crack in the road present real hazards.”If that motorcycle is swerving to avoid one of those dangerous obstacles that a car does not recognize, that can cause an accident. We see that frequently,” Chretien says. “Proper lights, daytime lights, blinkers are functioning and your gear helps you be seen.”As always, staying alert to changing technology and changing road conditions helps everyone avoid accidents.”Some of the local roads here are challenging,” Houtari says. “There’s sand still on some of the roads and roadwork, but it doesn’t keep us off them.””It’s just this feeling of open road and freedom that attracts not just the male operators but this huge population of female operators coming out now,” Chretien says. “It’s just fun to be out there on the road – as long as you’re safe.”