In recognition of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, I would like to reach out to Williams County motorists and motorcyclists alike, encouraging them to “share the road” in order to reduce motorcycle deaths and injuries. Motorcycles are among the smallest and most vulnerable vehicles on the road, putting riders at greater risk of death and serious injury in a crash. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than occupants of cars to die in a crash, and 5 times more likely to be injured.
The latest statistics from NHTSA display this tragedy in stark numbers. Up until 2013, motorcycle deaths increased every year over 16 years, except in 2009, which saw a decline. In 2013, 4,668 motorcyclists died on America’s roads, accounting for 14 percent of total highway deaths despite motorcycle registrations representing only about 3 percent of all vehicles in the country. That’s 4,668 too many deaths that we can help prevent. Last year, Williams County lost 2 motorcyclists as crash fatalities. That’s 2 too many that we can help prevent.
One way we can decrease the number of fatalities and make the roads safer is if we work together, motorists and motorcyclists alike. Adhering to the following rules could improve highway safety for everyone.
•Be on the lookout for motorcyclists at all times;
•Signal all lane changes and turns, and constantly check mirrors and blind spots before proceeding;
•Be fully focused on the task of driving and in control of their vehicles at all times;
•Never drive impaired by alcohol or drugs.
•Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed;
•Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and use reflective tape and gear to be more visible. NHTSA estimates helmets saved the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists in 2012;
•Never ride while impaired or distracted.
All motorists are reminded to safely “share the road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. Please join me in reaching out to other motorists and motorcyclists this month to encourage safe driving every day of the year.
Peg Buda, Williams County Health Department, Safe Communities, 419-485-3141