It had been a relatively quiet summer in Alaska as far as motorcycle involved accidents go. That changed last week, as three fatal collisions occurred over a four-day span in Southcentral.

These accidents serve as a stark reminder that whether you ride on two wheels or four, you can always be a better driver.

ABATE (Alaska Bikers Advocating Training and Education) claims to be the right way and safest way to get a motorcycle endorsement. Longtime “rider-coach” Doug Longerbone agrees, believing the motorcycle safety course should be part of high school curriculum.

"It's great,” said Longerbone. "When we were in school, we had rider education and now they don't even have that…”

ABATE offers courses for all levels of rider, from the greenest of beginners to those that want to sharpen up their survival skills. According to Longerbone, safety starts in the garage with proper bike maintenance. Checking tire pressure is a must as low pressure is the leading cause of tire failure.

As a rider, you manage risk, but the biggest risk on the road may be out of your hands and in those of another driver.

"Hang up the cellphone-- put it away,” advises Longerbone. “Most of the close calls I've had in the last probably 10 years on a motorcycle, in my car, in my truck, have all been people on cellphones."

While cellphones provide added danger and distraction on the road, so does alcohol. ABATE says 50 percent of motorcycle-involved accidents nationwide involve alcohol. That number is 70 percent in Alaska. Of the three fatal accidents last week, one in Sterling allegedly involved a driver under the influence.

Get off your cellphone, don’t drink and drive, pay attention to your surroundings, and respect your fellow drivers-- common sense things you can practice ensuring safety on the road. If you’re a biker, there’s another choice you can make for a safer drive.

"I like to say we don't wear helmets for us. You wear a helmet for a significant other,” said Longerbone. "Your wife, your kids. If you don't have those, your parents. Parents should not outlive their kids-- you wear a helmet for others in your life, not yourself.”

Longerbone believes that driving should be a privilege, not a right. Much of what ABATE teaches is common sense, but ultimately, common sense saves lives.

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