|'Share the Road' campaign highlights mutual safety responsibilities|
|Monday, May 13, 2013 8:29 PM|
BY STEPHANIE GROVES
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), more than 5,000 lives were lost in the United States in 2012 due to motorcycle fatalities. The statistic is an increase of close to 9 percent from 2011. The report indicates that since 1997 to 2011, motorcyclist fatalities have more than doubled, from 2,116 to 4,612.
There were 150 Ohio motorcyclists killed during the first nine months of 2012, up six from the same time frame in 2011.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Public Affairs Unit Spokesperson Bradley Shaw reported there have been 12 motorcycle involved fatal crashes resulting in 12 deaths reported so far in 2013. None of the reported fatalities occurred in Allen, Van Wert or Putnam counties. Of the fatal accidents, only four cyclists were wearing helmets, four of the cyclists were impaired and speed was a factor in six of the crashes.
Factors contributing to the rise in motorcyclist fatalities in 2012 include warmer temperatures, the economy and gas prices. Record-high temperatures in the spring extended the riding season and contributed to the increase of fatalities in the first six months. Economic improvements allowed more people to purchase and ride motorcycles. Additionally, higher gas prices spurred more people to choose motorcycles as their mode of transportation.
Another contributing factor for the rise in rider fatalities is the decrease in states with universal helmet laws. Currently, only 19 states require all riders to wear helmets, which is down from 26 in 1997.
Use of helmets are proven to be 37 percent effective at preventing fatal injuries to the operators and 41 percent effective for passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 706 of the motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2010 would have lived if they would have worn helmets.
National Safety Council Communications Director Kathy Lane said that motorcyclists should follow the rules of the roadway and wear protective gear, including a Department of Transportation compliant helmet. Riders should avoid riding in poor weather conditions, position the motorcycle in lane out of a motorist’s blind spot and use turn signals for every turn or lane change.
Other factors play a substantial role in crash fatalities. In 2010, 29 percent of fatally injured cyclist had a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit of .08 percent, 35 percent were speeding and 22 percent did not have a valid motorcycle license. The motorcycle license test prompts many riders to complete a training course.
Over six million motorcyclists have graduated from Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) RiderCourses since 1974, with 400,000 enrolling in courses each year. The program is designed as a 15-hour curriculum and takes place over a few days or consecutive weekends. Upon successful completion, most locations issue an MSF RiderCourse Completion Card.
On a local level, cyclists can explore training courses at Apollo Career Center in Lima, which offers a variety of courses from Basic Rider to Advanced. For more information on course offerings, contact Apollo Career Center in Lima at (800) 837-4337 or (419) 998-3000 and visit www.motorcycle.ohio.gov/basic_rider.stm.
Lane said there are some important tips for motorists to follow including allowing a greater following distance behind a motorcycle and giving the rider the full lane width – never try to share a lane.
“Be extra cautious in intersections,” Lane detailed. “Most crashes occur when a motorist fails to see a motorcyclist and turns left in front of a motorcycle.”
In addition, motorists can become more cognizant of motorcyclists by exercising additional preventative measures. Don’t rely on perception, estimate that a motorcycle is closer than it looks. Remember turn signals on a motorcycle are not always automatically self-canceling, drivers must determine whether a motorcycle’s turn signal is for real. Note that a motorcyclist will adjust position within a lane to be seen more readily, avoid road debris, and deal with passing vehicles and wind. Also, operators decrease speed by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, which does not activate a brake light, so leave plenty of room and do not tailgate motorcyclists.
|Last Updated on Monday, May 13, 2013 9:44 PM|