May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

STEUBENVILLE — May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the Ohio State Highway Patrol reminds motorcyclists to ride trained and sober.

The patrol reported there were 3,317 crashes in Ohio in 2017, which resulted in 146 deaths and 2,842 injuries. Total crashes and fatalities decreased last year, compared to 2017, but 77 percent of crashes involving motorcycles resulted in at least one injury or death.

Lt. Joseph Fetty, Steubenville post commander, said the unofficial start of summer is coming with the Memorial Day weekend. He said travel and picnics will increase, and so will motorcycles on the road. He said boat trailers and campers also will be on the road.

“Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination,” he said, adding drivers unfamiliar with an area might be driving slowly while looking for their destination.

Fetty said motorcycles are often hard to see from a car or truck. He said drivers need to constantly be checking mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles. He said drivers also need to double-check before pulling into traffic at intersections.

“Be aware of your surroundings and don’t drive distracted,” he said, adding cell phone, radios and other equipment in the vehicle can cause a driver to look away from the road.

Fetty urged motorcyclists to take a training class before going out on the road. He said riders should have the proper safety equipment, including boots, leather and, most important, a helmet.

“Helmets can protect you from severe head trauma,” he said.

He said the proper license endorsement also is needed.

The patrol in 2018 issued a total of 1,756 citations to motorcyclists, with 22 percent for operating a motorcycle without a proper endorsement and 7 percent for driving under the influence.

The patrol began an enforcement drive on May 13 that will continue through June 2. Fetty said troopers will be out enforcing safety belt use, speeding and finding drunk drivers.

A couple hundred motorcyclists are expected to converge on Harrison County on Friday morning for the arrival of the Spirit of America Wall, a traveling exhibit commemorating the country’s fight for freedom from 1775 to present day.

Fetty said the motorcyclists will meet the truck carrying the traveling exhibit at the Tappan Lake dam on U.S. Route 250. He said the caravan will proceed to U.S. Route 22, then into Cadiz and state Route 9 to the Harrison County Fairgrounds. State Route 9 southbound will be closed in Cadiz from 11 a.m. until noon.

“We are asking people who don’t have to be in the area to avoid it or plan on taking an alternate route,” Fetty said.