PRINCETON — If you’ve been out and about the last couple weeks, you may have started noticing the bright yellow signs that read, “Start Seeing Motorcycles.”
It’s that time of the year when motorcyclists are back on the road for riding season. Just in time, too, as May was proclaimed Motorcycle Awareness Month for the 31st year in Illinois as part of a statewide campaign to reduce motorcycle crash fatalities and injuries.
Provisionally, 153 motorcyclists died as a result of a motor vehicle crash last year.
According to a press release issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), motorcycles make up just 3 percent of all registered motor vehicles, yet motorcycle riders represented more than 15 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in 2013.
Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that motorcyclists are nearly 40 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes.
So what can drivers and motorcyclists do to help prevent these crashes? According to Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson, it’s all about looking at the bigger picture.
Thompson said most motorcycle crashes that have occurred in the county happened because someone was not paying attention. While some people may think focusing on the road is enough, riders and drivers have to be attentive to what’s happening all around them.
Thompson said it’s especially important for vehicle drivers to take extra caution and look twice before pulling out onto the road or switching lanes on the highway. Motorcyclists should also sport their headlight to draw more attention to their bike, so that vehicle drivers are more aware of their presence.
In the last three years, more than 9,000 “Start Seeing Motorcycles” yard signs have been distributed throughout the state as reminders to motorists to be more aware of motorcycles and always drive safely. Motorcyclists are reminded to make sure they are visible to motorists and that they follow the rules of the road.
“Every May since 1987, motorcycle chapters and organizations have partnered to promote motorist awareness on our roadways,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “Volunteers, representing 41 chapters, will spend their weekends this May at Illinois rest areas, washing windshields and handing out literature on motorcycle safety and awareness. As you are traveling during the month, if one of these volunteers approaches your vehicle, say ‘thank you’ for making Illinois safer.”
IDOT offers free Cycle Rider Safety Training courses statewide to help motorcycle riders acquire additional safety knowledge and training. More than 20,000 riders are expected to receive training this year. For more information about class schedules of the Cycle Rider Safety Training Program, “Start Seeing Motorcycles” and “Look Twice – Save a Life” campaigns or for other safety tips, visit www.startseeingmotorcycles.org.
Ten facts about motorcycles
1. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2000, 631 motorcyclists were saved by wearing their helmet.
2. The German inventor Gottlieb Daimler is generally credited with building the first practical motorcycle in 1885.
3. Up to eight motorbikes can fit in the same parking space occupied by one car.
4. Motorcycles and scooters are, on average, about twice as fuel efficient as cars.
5. The first rider to ever go more than 300 mph was Don Vesco in 1975, on a 1496cc Yamaha-engined streamliner.
6. Kawasaki also makes spaceships.
7. The fastest motorcycle is the Dodge Tomahawk, a prototype with an unusual design, featuring the 500 hp (373 kW) 8.3 L V10 engine from the Dodge Viper.
8. When Valentino Rossi was 5, his dad, Graziano, built him a go-cart to discourage him from getting into bikes.
9. Harley-Davidson built push-bikes between 1917 and 1923. The first Harley Davidson motorcycle built in 1903 used a tomato can for a carburetor.
10. The Fonz (aka Henry Winkler) couldn’t actually ride a motorcycle.
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