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Take extra care around motorcycles

The unofficial beginning of summer is less than a week away with Memorial Day.

Flowers are beginning to come out and so are motorcycles.

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported there were 3,585 motorcycle-related traffic crashes in 2019 that resulted in 165 deaths and 3,245 injuries. Total crashes and fatalities increased from 2018. The patrol reported in 2019 that 79 percent of the crashes involving motorcycles resulted in at least one injury or death.

Statistics show Ohio motorcycle drivers are at fault 56 percent of the time, and 41 percent of the crashes involved only the motorcycle.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, meanwhile, reported there were 2,714 motorcycle crashes that resulted in 164 deaths in 2018, the last year statistics were available. Drivers accounted for 153 of those deaths.

In West Virginia, 26 motorcycle fatalities were recorded in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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 and can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot.

Drivers need to make visual checks for motorcycles often by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

Motorcyclists have to follow the rules of the roadway, be alert to other drivers and always wear a helmet and other protective gear. They are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle occupants in the event of a crash. The patrol reported only 41 percent of motorcyclists 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.

In 2019, the OSHP reported 10 percent of motorcycle-related crashes involved alcohol or drug use, which is nearly twice the rate in crashes overall.

Pennsylvania reported similar statistics.

Drinking alcohol and driving any vehicle has serious consequences, whether behind the handlebars or behind the wheel.

Let’s all practice safe driving this biking season.

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