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FSUPD motorsports team rides again to promote safety

Sgt. Jason Harris and Officer Brett Sheffield of FSUPD joined members of the Florida Motorcycle Safety Coalition as they delivered a proclamation from Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Highway Patrol in Tampa.
Sgt. Jason Harris and Officer Brett Sheffield of FSUPD (at left, second row) joined members of the Florida Motorcycle Safety Coalition as they delivered a proclamation from Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Highway Patrol in Tampa.

Florida State University’s Motorsports Team, operated by the FSU Police Department, is on the road again to promote motorcycle safety across the state.

Sgt. Jason Harris and Officer Brett Sheffield of FSUPD joined members of the Florida Motorcycle Safety Coalition as they delivered a proclamation from Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Highway Patrol in Tampa last week. The proclamation recognized May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and encouraged motorists to be vigilant as they share the road with motorcyclists.

“Florida leads the nation in motorcycle fatalities,” said Harris, who leads FSUPD’s Training Section, including firearms, defensive tactics, driving, CPR and responses to critical incidents.

The safety campaign aims to raise awareness among drivers and Florida’s million-plus licensed motorcyclists.

“The latest figures show motorcycles make up only 3 percent of vehicle registrations, but motorcyclists represent nearly 20 percent of all traffic fatalities in Florida,” Harris said.

He and Sheffield teamed up several years ago to create the FSUPD motorsports team, an innovative program that’s designed to educate sport-bike riders about the dangers of reckless driving.

“We try to find the guys who are stunt-riding and street-racing, the guys doing wheelies down the interstate at 100-miles-an-hour,” said Harris, who enrolls motorcyclists in safety training events at racetracks around Florida.

“We’ve had some riders go through our program and thank us for helping them stop racing and doing stunts on the street. One of the riders had his mom come to the training and by the end of the day she was in tears saying, ‘I can’t thank you enough. I was just waiting for that phone call from FHP saying my son was on the side of the road injured or killed.’ Now, that guy doesn’t even ride on the street anymore. He only rides on the track, and he’s trying to get into racing.”

Florida led the nation with 584 motorcycle fatalities in 2015 — the latest figures available — according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The FSU Motorsports Team offers motorcycle safety training at racetracks in Jennings, Jupiter and Homestead, Fla. The program is made possible with funding from the Florida Department of Transportation and also provides the protective gear for motorcyclists during safety training on the racetrack.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/#!/FSUPDMotorsportsTeam.