Poughkeepsie… May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus, and Traffic Safety Board Administrator Bill Johnson remind ALL motorists to safely “share the road” with motorcycles and to be especially alert to help keep motorcyclists safe throughout the riding season.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “With the arrival of spring and good weather, motorcycles are once again beginning to fill our streets and highways. When you are out on the road, exercise caution and ‘Watch for Motorcycles’.”
Motorcycle riders now account for one out of every ten U.S. road fatalities each year – with motorcyclist deaths from traffic crashes rising each of the last eight years. Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle drivers in the event of a crash. According to Traffic Safety Administrator Bill Johnson, “Research shows approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider, while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill a driver or passenger in their vehicle. In fact, per vehicle mile traveled in 2005, motorcyclists were 37 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than occupants in passenger vehicles.”
NYS Department of Motor Vehicle data reveals 190 motorcyclists were killed in New York State in 2006; two of those fatalities occurred in Dutchess County. Dutchess County ranks 8th in New York State with 8,190 registered motorcycles last year.
County Executive Steinhaus and the Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board offers the following tips to the motoring public to promote safer motorcycling;
- One of the most prevalent factors in crashes involving cars and motorcycles is visibility. The motorist simply did not see the motorcycle. One of the most common crashes is the result of a vehicle turning in front of a motorcycle.
- Motorcycles are often being overlooked. They are smaller and move differently, they are often not seen or recognized in traffic by other motorists. Look twice for motorcyclists.
- Never tailgate a motorcyclist. Allow at least two seconds following distance between you and the motorcycle in front of you.
- Take some time to reacquaint yourself with your bike. Practice basic techniques like braking, shifting, turning and swerving in an empty parking lot or other safe area before going on the road.
- Remember at this time of year there may be large amounts of sand on the road left over from winter. Potholes are also more common in the early spring and can be extremely dangerous to a motorcyclist.
- Animal/wildlife activity often increases in the spring/summer.
- Simply obtaining a valid motorcycle license is one of the biggest reductions in risk. It’s the law in New York State, however nearly 27% of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2001 was not properly licensed.
- Get trained! Research shows that riders who completed a basic riding skills course are involved in fewer accidents than those who don’t. More than 90 percent of all riders involved in crashes are just self-taught or taught by friends.
- Wear protective clothing – this includes an approved helmet, goggles or face shield for eye protection, jacket, full-fingered gloves, long pants and over-the-ankle boots. Wearing brightly colored garments may help other vehicles see you.
- Ride according to your skill level. Never overestimate yourself.
The Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board is a coalition of law enforcement, education, health and service agencies and individuals committed to ensuring our street, sidewalks, and residents remain safe.