The Roundup -

By Don Smies 

"Get Up To Speed On Motorcycles"


August 5, 2020 | View PDF

In order to reduce motorcycle crashes and save more lives, Richland County Injury Prevention/ DUI Task Force and Richland County Health Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to launch a new “Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles” safety campaign to help save lives on our roadways.

According to NHTSA, motorcyclists accounted for 13.6% of all traffic fatalities in 2018, while motorcycles make up just 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States. In 2018, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes, a 4.7% decrease from 2017 when 5,229 motorcyclists were killed and more than 89,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes. To give you a more local view, in Montana 22 motorcyclists were killed in 2019. As of the writing of this report, July 28-2020, 18 motorcyclists have lost their lives this year alone in motor vehicle crashes. Folks, if we keep this trend up we are in danger of breaking the 10-year high death toll for motorcyclist of 34 in 2013. As a state, our average for the last 10 years is 23 deaths, with the lowest being 17 in 2016.

Anyone who rides a motorcycle will tell you how vehicle drivers can unintentionally become huge dangers to their safety. By gaining a basic understanding of motorcyclists’ riding behavior, motorists can drive more safely when motorcyclists are on the road with them.

With thousands of deaths each year, motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities. Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash, and 5 times more likely to be injured.

Even the smallest momentary lapse in awareness by a motorist can result in the death of an unseen motorcyclist. Misunderstanding, misjudging or overlooking a motorcycle can cost someone his or her life. We hope this new “Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles” safety campaign will help both motorists and motorcyclists begin to understand the driving behaviors that can help keep all of us safe.

Data shows the most harmful event for motorcycles involved in fatal crashes were collisions with motor vehicles in transport. Because they are small and have greater maneuverability than cars and trucks, motorcycles can be difficult to see or spot on the roadway, and motorists have difficulty judging their distance and speed. Motorists making left turns at intersections are one of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes, due to motorists’ difficulty judging the distance and speed of motorcycles.

A motorcyclist’s slowing/braking is not always obvious to motorists. Motorcycles decelerate faster than vehicles, so motorcyclists will often downshift instead of applying the brake, especially when driving around a curve. This means the brake lights will not be engaged to signal motorists of deceleration or an upcoming stop. You can tune in to the Health Department’s Face Book page over the next couple weeks for eight short clips about the “Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles” safety campaign.


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