Practice safety first with motorcyclists

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and, based on motorcycle fatalities in 2016, it is a good time for all motorists to look at biker safety.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported there were 203 people killed in 194 fatal motorcycle crashes in 2016, a 45 percent increase since 2014. Another 3,768 people were injured in motorcycle crashes, the patrol reported. Overall, 79 percent of motorcycle-related crashes resulted in an injury or death. Motorcycle drivers were at fault in 65 percent of fatal motorcycle-related crashes in 2016 and 54 percent of motorcycle crashes overall, the patrol reported. The patrol added 46 percent of fatal motorcycle-related crashes involved only the motorcycle.

Motorcycle drivers need to remember to be extra careful on the road but all drivers need to remember to safely share the road with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcyclists are reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists in case other drivers are not looking out for motorcycle riders.

Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on the road, often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot.

Drivers need to make visual checks for motorcycles by often checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections. Motorcyclists should follow the rules of the roadway, be alert to other drivers and always wear a helmet and other protective gear.

Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle occupants in the event of a crash. The patrol reported only one-in-four motorcyclists killed in crashes last year were wearing a helmet.

Drivers of cars or trucks need to allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when behind a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Drivers of bikes also need to follow basic safety measures. Novice cyclists should enroll in a motorcycle safety course. Nearly one-in-four of the traffic citations issued to motorcyclists in 2106 were for driving without a valid driver’s license or motorcycle endorsement, the patrol reported. Drinking alcohol and driving any vehicle has serious consequences, whether behind the handlebars or behind the wheel. In 2016, 9 percent of motorcycle-related crashes involved alcohol and/or drugs, nearly twice the rate of other vehicle crashes. Let’s all practice safe driving this biking season.