Despite a decline in motorcycle related fatalities, safety experts say much work is still left to do.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 434 motorcyclists were killed in Texas in 2009, an 18 percent reduction from the previous year. Nationwide, the number of motorcyclist fatalities showed a 16 percent reduction. Despite these improvements, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) updated its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements by adding motorcycle safety as its newest issue area.
So what’s being done in Texas?
Motorists’ and rider awareness are two areas that Research Scientist Patricia Turner focuses.
Motorcycle Safety Forum
At this year’s Motorcycle Safety Forum, more than 80 researchers, law enforcement officers, motorcycle riders, educators, and members of government agencies gathered to discuss opportunities and initiatives to reduce motorcycle crashes, injuries, and fatalities in Texas.
“The Forum is an opportunity to exchange ideas,” said Turner. “We are all trying to make our roads safer for riders, and it helps when we can all get together in the same room and listen to each other’s ideas.”
At the Forum, Paul Landers, chairman of the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association (TMRA2), accepted a posthumous award on behalf of Bill “Sputnik” Strain. The award was “in recognition of his loyalty and dedication to the Texas Motorcycle Safety Coalition and support of and participation in the Texas Motorcycle Safety Forum.”
Motorcycle Safety Fair
On April 30, TTI co-hosted the 2nd Central Texas Motorcycle Safety Fair with the Austin Police Department, TxDOT, and TxDPS. The fair’s theme is based on the Ride Safe. Ride SMART campaign which focuses on:
- Safety equipment/protection (including helmets)
- Motorcycle license/endorsement
- Awareness (be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times)
- Responsibility (ride sober)
- Traffic laws (obey all traffic laws including the helmet law, equipment, lights, unreadable license plates, etc.)
Share the Road campaign
TxDOT reinforced its commitment to motorcyclists with the April 12 launch of the Share the Road campaign. The message: look twice for motorcycles at intersections and when changing lanes, the two places where serious motorcycle collisions commonly occur.
“We know that 66 percent of motorcycle crashes result in death or serious injury for the motorcyclist,” said Carol Rawson, TxDOT’s Traffic Operations Director. “As more and more people turn to motorcycles for affordable transportation and recreation, it’s more important than ever to remind drivers to look twice for motorcycles.”
Tips on how to look twice for motorcyclists:
- Do a Double Take: Look twice for motorcyclists at intersections, where they may be making a left turn, as well as on the highway, where a motorcyclist may be changing lanes. Clearly signal your intentions.
- Be Respectful: Remember, a motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any vehicle on the roadway.
- Give Them Space: Don’t follow a motorcycle too closely. A motorcyclist’s riding patterns are different from vehicle patterns, and reactions may vary for the same road or weather conditions. Allow a full lane of travel space between your car or truck and a motorcycle.
- Anticipate Next Steps: Obstructions that you do not notice could prove to be deadly for a motorcyclist. Give motorcyclists plenty of space to react and make the road a safe place for you and others, no matter what form of transportation they use.
For more information on the campaign, visit TxDOT’s website.
For more information on the Motorcycle Safety Forum or Motorcycle Safety Fair, visit Looklearnlive.org.