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Things to Know for Motorcycle Awareness Month


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By Jorge Casuso

May 9, 2024 -- Motorcycle Awareness month in May is a good time to ponder some statistics that highlight the dangers of riding on two wheels exposed at high speeds.

  • About one-third of motorcycle fatalities in the U.S. involve speeding and about a quarter involve alcohol;

  • About three-quarters of motorcycle accidents are collisions from the front, and

  • More than a third of motorcycle accidents involve riders who don't have a valid license;

Throughout Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) is conducting safety details and providing safety tips for both motorcyclists and drivers, police officials said.

“Motorcycles may be difficult to spot, so be extra careful before changing lanes,” said Lt. Cody Green. “A simple double take could mean the difference between a safe journey and a tragic crash.

"Motorcycle riders do not have the same protections drivers and passengers do. Let's all do our part to keep each other safe out there.”

There were 6,218 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2022, the highest number of such deaths since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began tracking fatal motor vehicle crashes in in 1975.

In fact, motorcyclists were about 22 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and four times more likely to be injured, according to the data.

The increase in fatalities was in part due to a decrease in the use of motorcycle helmets, which help protect riders from head injuries that are a major cause of death.

The NHTSA found that in 2021, "for every 100 motorcycle riders who lost their lives in accidents, 37 could have been saved if they had a helmet on at the time of the incident," according to Forbes Advisor.

NHTSA data show that 25 to 29-year-olds are most likely to die in a motorcycle accident.

"These young drivers have less experience and are more likely to take risks, both of which explain their higher rates of death while riding," Forbes wrote.

Men account for 92 percent of motorcycle deaths and 99 percent of drivers killed, while 61 percent of women who die in motorcycle accidents are passengers, according to NHTSA data.

SMPD reminds drivers to always check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes and keep a safe distance when driving behind a motorcycle.

Drivers also should be careful when they see a motorcycle with a signal on and make sure the rider is turning before moving ahead.

Motorcyclists should always wear a U.S. DOT-compliant helmet with eye protection and "leather or other sturdy clothing such as a jacket, pants, boots with nonskid soles and gloves."

They also should "add reflective strips or decals" to their clothing and motorcycle to make it easier for other drivers to see them.

Motorcyclists should drive defensively, never assume a driver can see them and avoid riding in a driver’s blind spot. They also should keep their lights on, even during the day.

Lastly, both drivers and riders should never drive/ride distracted or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

"By practicing safe driving habits and taking shared responsibility on our roads, we can help everyone arrive at their destination safely," police officials said.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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