Tuesday, May 22, 2012

“Get Your Motor Running and Head out on the Highway”

The weather outside is perfect for getting out the motorcycle and hitting the open road. But, before you head out with the sun on your back, there are a few safety items you need to think about before you ride.

In the city of Overland Park over the last five years we took 211 accident reports involving motorcycles. That averages out to be about 42 per year. Back in 2007, there were 65 accidents, and last year that number was cut in half to 30. This has been the result of public education and strict enforcement.

• The majority of these accidents involved some type of injury to the motorcycle operator or passengers. (157 out of 211).

• There were five fatalities from 2007-2011 and 38 disabling injuries.

• 200 accidents occurred on a dry surface.

• Drivers lost control (60) or were involved in some type of rear-end collision (58).

• Most accidents occurred on Friday and Saturday evenings after 4:00 pm (122).

• Not surprisingly, from May through August the number of accidents increased significantly.

• Inattention (51) was the contributing cause of most accidents, with Failure to Yield the Right of Way (28), Too Fast for Conditions (23) and Driving Under the Influence (23) were also prevalent causes.

• Of the 211 accidents, 114 were wearing some type of protective helmet, 62 were either not wearing head protection, or it could not be determined.

• Operators between the ages of 20-29 were involved in the most crashes (109).

AAA offers some excellent safety tips for motorcycle operators:

Be visible:

• Remember that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time.

• Make sure your headlight works and is on day and night.

• Wear bright clothing.

• Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.

• Be aware of the blind spots cars and trucks have.

• Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.

Dress for safety:

• Remember - there's nothing but clothing between you and the road.

• Wear a quality DOT- compliant helmet and eye protection

• Wear leather or other thick, protective clothing.

• Choose long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.

Apply effective mental strategies:

• Constantly scan the road for changing conditions.

• Give yourself space and time to react to other motorists.

• Give other motorists time and space to react to you.

• Don't ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

• Know and follow the rules of the road.

• Stick to the speed limit.

Use lane positioning to be seen:

• Ride in the part of a lane where you are most visible.

• Watch for turning vehicles.

• Signal your next move in advance.

• Avoid weaving between lanes.

Remember: Give yourself space. People driving cars often just don't see motorcycles. Even when drivers do see you, chances are they've never been on a bike and can't properly judge your speed.