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Share the road with motorcycles

Memorial Day, which marks the unofficial start of summer, is just one week away.

And even with some of the highest gasoline prices in history, it’s anticipated there will be an increase in traffic this coming weekend and in the weeks ahead. Unfortunately, more vehicles means there will be greater chances for accidents. That’s why it’s important for all motorists to be careful, especially when they are riding or sharing the road with motorcyclists. and while that message always is important, it gets special attention each May, which is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, in 2021, there were 4,005 motorcycle-related traffic crashes that resulted in 215 deaths.

During 2021 in Jefferson County there were 23 crashes reported with two deaths, the patrol said. In Columbiana County, 45 crashes resulted in two deaths, while in Harrison County 12 crashes resulted in one death and in Carroll County there were 13 crashes and one death. Belmont County saw 23 crashes and three fatalities.

So far this year, there have been 636 motorcycle crashes in Ohio and 28 fatalities. Area numbers to date in 2022 see four crashes in Jefferson County with one death, two crashes in Harrison County, two crashes in Carroll County, five crashes in Columbiana County with one death and seven crashes in Belmont County with one death.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were 176 motorcycle-related traffic deaths in Pennsylvania and 28 deaths in West Virginia in 2019, the last year for which statistics are available.

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, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

The foundation reminds motorcyclists to be visible, but pretend they are invisible. They also should gear up for every ride with protective gear.

Use of good street strategies is critical, the foundation adds, as is giving the motorcycle a thorough check before riding.

Drivers also have responsibilities including taking an extra moment to look for motorcycles, predicting that a motorcycle is closer than it looks, keeping a safe distance, understanding lane shifting and looking for more than the person — seeing the rider.

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.

Riders also need to follow basic safety measures, and that includes at least one motorcycle safety course for novice.

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

And, while proper safety precautions should always be followed, the weekends and early evening hours carry the greatest risks for motorcyclists — patrol statistics show that since Jan. 1, 2021, 918 motorcycle crashes were reported on Saturdays and 804 were reported on Sundays. The numbers also show that 62.1 percent of all crashes happened between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.

No matter what we are driving, let’s remember to put safety first every time we take to the road.

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