Drivers who encounter motorcycles on the road should slow down and give them plenty of space. They should be alert that a motorcyclist may quickly change speed or lane position to avoid loose gravel, debris, seams or grooves in the pavement, sewer or access covers, or small animals. Motorcycles can also stop fast, which can give drivers a limited time to react if they are following too closely.
Many motorcycle accidents involving automobiles occur when a driver tries to turn left. In these instances, a driver doesn’t see or fails to judge the speed and distance of an oncoming motorcycle and ends up turning in front of it.
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace stated, “Motorcycles are extremely popular in Chautauqua County and we must learn to share the road with them safely. Both vehicle operators and motorcyclists share the responsibility for safety. Motorcyclists need to operate as though they are invisible to other drivers. Drivers of cars and trucks need to watch for motorcycles. Especially at intersections. It is more difficult to judge the speed of a motorcycle and they can stop much more rapidly. Give them space.”
Drivers should also check their blind spots for motorcycles, especially on busy highways, before they pass or change lanes.
Shelly Wells, Public Health Planner for the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services, said, “According to The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR)’s Motorcycle Crash preliminary summary data for 2016, there were a total of 4,902 crashes in New York State and 42 crashes in Chautauqua County. Of those incidents, 133 crashes statewide were fatal with no fatalities reported for Chautauqua County. I encourage drivers to look twice and save a life.”
Motorcyclists also have the same responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. They should follow the rules of the road, obey the speed limit, and never ride when they are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Motorcyclists are less visible to drivers and have less protection. To improve their visibility, motorcyclists are required to keep their headlights and taillight on at all times. They should also avoid weaving between lanes and always ride in the best lane position to see and be seen. To better protect themselves, motorcyclists should always wear approved helmets that meet U.S. Department of Transportation and New York State standards.
“Helmets are critical in helping prevent head injuries during a crash or fall from a motorcycle and should always be securely fastened to your head when you ride,” said Mike Volpe, Senior Paramedic of Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services. “EMS providers have seen first-hand how helmets, leather jackets, and other protective gear do an excellent job protecting the motorcyclist from serious injury. These items provide protective cover and are designed to sustain impact with solid objects. Injuries such as closed head injuries, serious fractures, wounds, and abrasions are very common in motorcycle accidents when proper protection is not utilized.”
A motorcyclist’s helmet should fit snugly around his head and should have no obvious defects such as cracks, loose pads or frayed straps. Motorcyclists should also wear goggles or a face shield when they ride to protect their eyes or face from dirt, rain, or pebbles thrown from cars ahead. They should also wear leather or thick protective clothing that completely covers their arms and legs.
Motorcyclists should also ensure their bikes are in proper operating condition. Before every ride, they should: check the air pressure and general wear and tread of their tires; check oil and fluid levels; check their headlights, taillight, turn signals, and brake light; make sure the clutch and throttle work smoothly; clean and adjust their mirrors; and try their brakes and horn.
“Harley Davidson like other manufacturers is adding technology to their motorcycles to keep riders safe and make other drivers more aware of their presence,” said Matt Eyring, General Manager of Harley Davidson of Jamestown. “Some of these features include linked ABS braking, additional brake lights, and better lighting to name a few.”
Motorcyclists are also encouraged to get formal training and take refresher courses. To locate the Motorcycle Safety Foundation hands-on RiderCourse nearest you, call 1-800-446-9227 or visit www.msf-usa.org .
The 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign was announced by Horrigan in May and it challenges residents to practice safety from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. During the months of June, July, and August, he will partner with county officials to raise awareness about important safety tips and precautions for residents and visitors to take while they enjoy family vacations and recreational activities this summer.
“By making safety a top priority this summer, residents can help do their part in preventing tragedies such as automobile, motorcycle, bicycle or boating accidents,” said Horrigan. “Residents are encouraged to make it their mission to be responsible, be aware of their surroundings, address safety issues and educate others on practicing safety. By stressing safety during these summer months, it is my hope that residents will get into the habit of making safety their number one priority and continue to practice safety all year long.”