"Look Twice for Motorcycles" during May's Motorcycle Awareness Month

ITD and its partners in motorcycle safety remind motorists to “Look Twice for Motorcycles” to help prevent motorcycle rider deaths and injuries during May’s Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Preliminary data shows that five motorcyclists have died in crashes on Idaho highways so far in 2015.  A total of 25 motorcycle riders lost their lives in the Gem State in 2014.  

“Due to the early spring weather, more people are trading out their cars and trucks for motorcycles,” said Josephine Middleton, of ITD’s Office of Highway Safety.

During the last five years (2010-2014), there have been 117 fatal motorcycle crashes. In 44 percent of these fatal crashes, another vehicle was involved.  

“In motorcycle crashes that involve another vehicle, most drivers did not see the motorcycle until it was too late,” Middleton explained.  “This almost always leads to tragic consequences for the motorcycle rider because they are exposed to a much greater risk of fatal or serious injury.”

Always wearing protective riding gear and a helmet is an important way for a motorcyclist to stay safe.  Of the 117 people killed in motorcycle crashes from 2010-2014, more than half (54 percent) were not wearing helmets.

 “It is up to all motorists and motorcyclists to make our roads safer,” said Officer Will Stoy, with Meridian Police Department’s Motor Patrol Unit.

“All road users need to share the responsibility of keeping the roads safe so deaths can be prevented,” added Officer Stoy.  

He offered tips to drivers on how to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle:

•  Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
•  Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
•  If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
•  Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
•  Always allow more following distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
•  Never drive or ride distracted or impaired.

In 56 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes from 2010-2014, no other vehicle was involved. Several factors contributed to these fatal motorcycle crashes during that time period — Impairment (alcohol or drugs), 28 percent; Aggressive driving, 22 percent; Inattentive driving nine percent.

Completion of the Idaho STAR Motorcycle Rider Training Program is associated with a 79-percent reduction in crash risk, and an 89-percent reduction in the risk of a fatal crash, according to analysis of crash data from 1996-2010.  

“Can you reduce your chance of crashing on a motorcycle?  Yes, you can, by taking motorcycle-rider training,” said Sunshine Beer, director of the Idaho STAR Program.

Motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these steps:

•    Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
•    Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
•    Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
•    Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
•    Ride in the part of the lane where you will be the most visible to drivers.
•    Never ride distracted or impaired.

“Idaho is a great place for motorcycle riding,” said Lane Triplett from the Idaho Coalition for Motor