Share the road with motorcycles

Motorcycle wrecks involving injuries were trending downward until last year.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported there were 3,674 motorcycle accidents involving injuries in 2008. The number dropped to 2,973 in 2011 but increased to 3,261 last year.

Statewide the number of motorcycle fatal wrecks dropped from 208 in 2008 to 156 in 2012. The number of motorcycle wrecks involving alcohol or drugs statewide has dropped from 524 in 2008 to 386 in 2012, according to the highway patrol.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the warmer weather brings motorcycles onto the road.

Drivers need to remember to safely share the road with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcyclists are reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists in case other drivers are not looking for riders.

Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on the road, often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot.

Drivers need to make visual checks for motorcycles by often checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too. They should follow the rules of the roadway, be alert to other drivers and always wear a helmet and other protective gear.

A helmet that meets federal standards reduces the chances of being killed in an accident by about 40 percent, according to the author of the Governor’s Highway Safety Association report. Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle occupants in the event of a crash.

Drivers of cars or trucks need to allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when behind a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Drivers of bikes need to follow basic safety measures, and novice cyclists should enroll in a motorcycle safety course.

The obvious suggestion is that alcohol and riding don’t mix.

Enjoy the warmer weather, but remember, all motorists, whether in a vehicle or on a bike, need to drive safely.