FAIRFAX, Va. (NewsChannel 8) - The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is urging caution after seven motorcycle fatalities occurred over the previous two weekends.
Throughout the Commonwealth, some riders are taking safety into their own hands by getting some extra safety lessons.
"The thrill of it, it's exciting, the freedom," said motorcycle student Mike Brewer.
Before motorcycle riders can have that freedom on the open road, they must learn the basics.
Apex Cycle Education holds courses year round, including a beginner course at George Mason University.
"We go from people that are afraid to even touch the motorcycle to having very proficient people at the end of 15 hours," said Steven Longstreet, a motorcycle safety coach with Apex Cycle Education.
Riders of all ages take the school's beginner safety course voluntarily.
"We lose too many people because of carelessness, so it's a purpose, a reason for safety," said student Demetrica Jefferis.
The safety course is meant to prepare riders for the unexpected.
"We work on teaching more up here," Longstreet said. "So, if they can get themselves in the right situations, they don't have to be the best at stopping, they don't have to be the best at swerving, they can avoid all that nonsense."
Instructors say riding a motorcycle has changed.
"The traffic mix around here has changed dramatically the types of vehicles that are out there, the volume of traffic activity that we have. Motorcyclists are just extremely more exposed," said Apex Cycle Education Co-Owner David Hepburn.
These riders will spend two days getting a feel for the bikes before they get a license to rideat least temporarily.
After completing the course, riders get a temporary 30-day license before they have to get the full license from the DMV. The beginner course is not required by Virginia law, but it can reduce insurance rates.
"It's gonna come with time and experience, so I'm looking forward to it," Jefferis said.
Click here to find area courses approved by the Virginia DMV.