Carroll County citizen Wes Hurst was set to be honored by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on June 12 in Richmond for his contributions to motorcycle safety.
Hurst, Director of the Virginia Bikers Association, will be presented that day with the 2014 Governor’s Transportation Safety Award in the category of Motorcycle Safety. The award will also be presented on behalf of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Highway Safety Office.
Aside from his work with the Virginia Bikers Association, Hurst also teaches classes at Carroll County High School a handful of days each year to teach new motorists the importance of motorcycle safety. Hurst, who taught the class as recently as May 15 at CCHS, also tries to educate new drivers on why it is important to be on the lookout for motorcyclists.
“The Governor’s Award is to recognize people who do extra to promote safety,” Hurst said. “The nomination talks about my work with motorcycle awareness through the high school and the work we do through the Virginia Bikers Association, which I founded. While I did get recognized for it, a lot of it stems back to the work the Virginia Bikers Association group performs.”
The Virginia Bikers Association is a state motorcycle rights organization that “basically fights for people’s rights.” If someone believes they have been discriminated against, the group will help the motorcyclist with those issues, Hurst said.
“One year we got handlebar rights appealed to have any size handlebar on your motorcycle. Some people are real big and need bigger bars because they are cramped. Others are the opposite and do not need it, so we got the law changed because when you are sitting on the bike you need to be able to use all the controls in the most extreme conditions and be able to use the controls on both sides,” Hurst said. “Those are some of the issues we try to help with. Somebody got stopped one time for having handlebars too high. He called and said, ‘I thought they did away with that law,’ and I told him, ‘Yes, they did,’ and he said, ‘They are trying to give me a ticket.’ It is different things like that we try to work on.”
As part of the motorcycle safety classes at the high school, Hurst said he begins with a kit that shows why bikers ride certain apparel such as jacket, helmets, gloves and chaps. The goal of the class is to reduce risks as much as possible.
“We try to make sure they are aware and see us and we try to teach them to share the road. One of the big things I try to emphasize is that driver’s license they get is a privilege with a responsibility. When motorcyclists are coming down the road and you are not concentrating on what you are doing, it causes major problems such as injuries and death, and you are libel,” Hurst said. “Maybe they just had a fight with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or mom and dad, it doesn’t matter. You still can’t take somebody else’s position on the road.”
The class also strives to teach drivers about motorcycles and their controls. At the end, students are presented a pair of “beer goggles” that simulates the effects alcohol has on the vision and mind of a driver.
“We have them walk the line and they can’t do it worth a lick. Pat Sharp is great. He always plays Officer Sharp, and when they start walking the straight line we will show them the keys and have them take them to drive home. They usually swat at it because they can’t see clearly,” Hurst said. “And we just try to tell them, ‘Hey, we are out there, look twice, save a life.’”