Motorcycle safety tips amid recent uptick in deadly crashes

Updated: May. 19, 2023 at 5:20 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Warmer weather is bringing more bikers out on our roadways, meaning drivers and riders alike will need to be more mindful about motorcycle safety.

Just this week, we’ve seen two motorcycle accidents turn fatal here in Michiana.

We’re bringing you some reminders on how to stay safe on the roads, whether you’re riding your own bike or just driving next to one.

These two crashes put in perspective just how serious motorcycle crashes can be compared to those only involving passenger vehicles. No one wants to see tragic endings like this, so here are some reminders on how we can all share the road.

What might be a fender bender in an SUV could be a fatality for a biker. That’s why ABATE of Indiana says it’s important for riders and drivers alike to educate themselves on avoiding motorcycle accidents this time of year.

“Springtime, bikes are just getting back out. Most people don’t see them during the winter and they’re not really looking for them as much, so we want to make sure that motorists are aware the bikes are back out on the road,” said ABATE of Indiana President Jay Jackson. “We also want to make sure the riders have dusted off the cobwebs from the long winter and are paying attention as well.”

He says an important phrase for motorists and riders to remember is “See and be seen”.

Drivers need to be mindful of using proper signaling and roadway etiquette with more motorcycles on the road to lessen the risk of a crash in general. Drivers should take extra caution when checking blind spots, as a motorcycle could go unseen where you would typically notice a passenger vehicle.

Bikers also share a responsibility to see and be seen. Jackson says they should do everything they can to be more visible to other drivers. That could include using reflective material, wearing bright clothing, and making sure your headlights are on even in the daytime.

He also says that riders need to think ahead to predict the unpredictable, while also having an escape route in mind in the event of a crash.

He encourages folks to wear proper protective equipment like helmets and jackets but also acknowledges that the gear can only go so far in protecting someone in the event of an accident.

“So, we want to make sure the rider has the proper tools to hopefully avoid the crash, rather than reacting to the crash by wearing the proper equipment,” he said. “But if you do fall down for whatever reason, you’re going to appreciate having some sort of protection, not only on your head, but the rest of your body as well.”

The biggest tool for all motorcyclists to avoid crashes is by getting some formal education on riding, according to Jackson.

“We do find with crash-involved riders that about 90-95% of them seem to be self-taught,” he said. “So, they’ve not had the benefit of the formal training program where they’ll be able to learn those things that really give them an edge when they get started.”

Here is a great resource from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that breaks down a lot of these tips in detail for both drivers and riders.

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