Riding Season Brings Renewed Emphasis On Motorcycle Safety

The beginning of Spring means many things to many people. For some, it means baseball season and barbecuing. For others, it means walking along the lake and soaking up the rays. For motorcycle riders, it means finally being able to get back out on the roads and enjoy what is for many more of a lifestyle than a hobby. The return of motorcycle friendly weather brings with it a renewed emphasis on keeping riders safe and healthy. The Illinois Department of Transportation is reminding motorcycle riders of the importance of proper training and proper safety equipment. These and other safety tips can make the difference between a pleasant riding season and a serious motorcycle accident.

In 2010, roughly 4,500 Americans were killed in motorcycle crashes. Thousands more suffered traumatic injuries that will impact the rest of their lives. According to IDOT, motorcycle deaths made up more than 15 percent of all vehicle deaths in 2012. The State is asking that riders help reduce that number by making an effort to wear safe gear, including a helmet and protective, high-visibility clothing. In addition, officials are asking Illinois motorcyclists to make sure that the equipment they use is in good condition.

The AAA has made several recommendations to help keep motorcyclists safe. These recommendations include making motorcycle training more accessible and convenient, as well as teaching every driver the proper way to share the road with motorcycles. At least one major study concluded that 75 percent of motorcycle accidents involve a passenger vehicle and, among those accidents, two-thirds involved the car violating the motorcyclist's right of way. The common refrain from car drivers is that they never saw the motorcycle until they hit it. That goes to show that the importance of protective clothing that is easily visible cannot be underestimated.

Proper motorcycle gear includes more than just a helmet that meets the high protection standard. In addition, motorcyclists are encouraged to wear eyewear and closed-toe footwear, preferably over-the-ankle boots. Riders should wear leather or heavy long pants, as well as leather or a heavy-duty long sleeve jacket. Many states recommend the use of full-fingered leather gloves, as well.

A significant percentage of motorcycle accidents, particularly fatal motorcycle crashes, involve speeding or alcohol use. The Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that more than one-third of all motorcyclists involved in deadly crashes were speeding. Even a relatively low speed crash can lead to serious injury if the rider is not wearing a helmet. Traumatic brain injuries lead to serious, lifelong consequences for riders and their loved ones. Speeding only heightens the risk that a crash will lead to serious injury or death.

Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers on the road. Avoiding injury requires more than an understanding of your rights. By taking safety precautions and improving your chances of avoiding an accident or at least surviving one, you can help make this riding season a success.