Now that the warmer temperatures are finally here, there’s a good chance you’ll start hearing some familiar summer sounds, including the revving of lawnmower engines, boat engines and, of course, motorcycle engines.
However, before any motorcyclist takes to the roads and highways, both the Illinois Department of Transportation and law enforcement agencies across the state are urging them to brush up on a few safety tips.
These efforts come as part of Motorcycle Awareness Month, a campaign held every May to raise awareness about the importance of safe driving on the part of both motorcyclists and so-called “four-wheelers,” meaning car and truck drivers.
Some of these safety tips include:
- Always wear high-visibility clothing and a helmet; Statistics show that of the 148 motorcyclists who died in Illinois in 2012, 78 percent were not wearing a DOT-approved helmet.
- Always drive defensively and safely, meaning no speeding, tailgating or impaired driving.
- Always use turn signals, brake lights and, if necessary, a horn to make your presence known to four-wheelers.
- Always conduct a brief safety inspection of your bike before heading out.
- Always brush up on your training, as Illinois is only one of two states to offer free motorcycle training; This is especially true for novice riders or riders returning to their bikes after years away.
While it can, of course, be easy to discount these safety tips, particularly if you are an experienced rider, always remember that motorcycle accidents can and do occur all the time thanks to the negligence of four-wheelers.
Indeed, statistics from IDOT show that there were 155 motorcycle crash fatalities in 2013 and 118 such fatalities the following year, comprising roughly 16 percent of the state’s total traffic fatalities. While this is shocking enough on its own, consider that motorcycles only make up about 3 percent of the total vehicle registrations in the Land of Lincoln.
Here’s hoping that we see a safe summer for motorcyclists and that these fatality figures continue their decline in 2015.