Guest Editorial: State launches ‘Start Seeing Motorcycles’ campaign
Illinois Department of Transportation
With motorcycle riding season officially under way, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police, Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA), and A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) teamed up to kick off the “Start Seeing Motorcycles” campaign across the state and urge all motorists to share the road. Governor Pat Quinn also demonstrated his strong support for motorcycle safety and issued a proclamation declaring May as Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois.
“As the weather improves and riding increases in popularity, more motorcyclists are hitting the roads,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “With that in mind, passenger cars and trucks need to be attentive and make sure they ‘share the road.’ A motorcycle is one of the smallest vehicles on our roads, therefore every driver needs to proactively look for them before changing lanes or merging with traffic.”
Now throughout the rest of the riding season, motorists will be reminded to “Start Seeing Motorcycles” in an effort to help keep motorcyclists safe. Changing the driving habits of motorists and motorcyclists alike will help decrease the number of motorcycle fatalities and injuries in crashes. Motorcyclists are reminded to make sure that they are visible to motorists, and that they strictly follow the rules of the road.
IDOT also reminded motorcyclists of their responsibilities as well. They should obey traffic rules, be alert to other drivers, never ride while impaired or distracted, and always wear a DOT-approved helmet and other brightly colored protective gear.
“Whether you are traveling in a vehicle or riding on a motorcycle, safety should be the number-one priority,” said Illinois State Police Commander Scott Abbott. “As we prepare for the spring and summer months, motorists are reminded to watch for motorcycle traffic and obey all traffic laws, especially those pertaining to speed and lane changes,” he added.
“May is Motorcycle Awareness Month,” said Carleen Grant, coordinator for A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois. “A.B.A.T.E. strives each year to educate both motorists and motorcyclists to be aware, not only during the month of May, but all year. Motorcycles are everywhere. 144 motorcycle fatalities across the state last year is tragic. To lose even one life is unacceptable. Through A.B.A.T.E.’s comprehensive Safety and Awareness program, we hope to help bring those statistics down. Remember, it only takes a moment to “Look Twice To Save A Life’”.
Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 16 percent of total fatalities within Illinois in 2011. Statistics show a motorcyclist is more vulnerable than a passenger vehicle occupant in the event of a crash. Research from DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 39 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes.
IDOT offers the following tips for drivers in an effort to help keep motorcyclists safe on Illinois roadways.
• Remember, a motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle
• Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane
• Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections
• Always use your signal well before changing lanes or merging with traffic
• Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle—motorcycle signals frequently do not auto-cancel and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before proceeding
• Increase your following distance—three or four seconds—when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency
• Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop quicker than cars
• Never drive while distracted
Motorcyclists can increase their safety by:
• Participating in a free IDOT motorcycle training class
• Making sure they are properly licensed
• Avoiding riding in poor weather conditions
• Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-approved helmet
• Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it
• Using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity
• Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers
• Never driving while impaired
IDOT also offers free Cycle Rider Safety Training courses statewide for motorcycle riders to acquire additional safety knowledge and training. Approximately 21,000 riders are expected to receive training this year. For more information about class schedules of the Cycle Rider Training program, “Start Seeing Motorcycles” campaign or safety tips, please visit www.startseeingmotorcycles.org.