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Put safety first when you take to the road

April 6, 2012
The Herald-Star

More than the clock moved forward this spring.

Trees and plants came to life earlier than normal with the warmer weather.

Motorcycles also appeared on the road earlier this spring, and the reality of gasoline prices trying to top the $4 a gallon mark has pushed many bikers to go from recreational rider to making their motorcycle their major means of transportation.

Motorcycle Awareness Month isn't until May, but now is a good time to remember that all motorists need to be aware that bikes are back on the road.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated 27 accidents involving motorcycles in Jefferson and Harrison counties in 2011. Twenty-one of the wrecks resulted in injuries and one was a fatality. There already have been three motorcycle wrecks investigated by the local patrol post this year, resulting in two injuries.

Motorcycle fatalities across the state have dropped from a five-year high in 2008, when there were 214 deaths. The number was 165 last year. Overall, all traffic fatalities have been slowly decreasing across the state, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

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.

Motorists 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 have responsibilities, too. They should follow the rules of the roadway, be alert to other drivers and always wear a helmet and other protective gear.

A helmet that meets federal standards reduces the chances of being killed in an accident by about 40 percent, according to the author of the Governor's Highway Safety Association report.

Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle occupants in the event of a crash.

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.

If you are a novice rider, enroll in a motorcycle safety course.

The obvious suggestion is that alcohol and riding don't mix. A high percent of biking fatalities show that drinking was involved.

Enjoy the warmer weather. All motorists, whether in a vehicle or on a bike, need to drive safely.

 
 

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