by Jim Adler
Did you know May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month in America? More importantly, did you know Texas now has over 440,000 motorcycles and mopeds on its roads — more than double the number of a decade ago?
Such knowledge is vital since so many Texas drivers fail to observe motorcycles. In fact, turning left directly in their path is the cause of almost two-thirds of catastrophic motorcycle injuries and deaths. That’s why the state urges drivers to “share the road” and “look twice to save a life.”
Just last year, 460 persons died on motorcycles in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. That’s 13 percent of all Texas traffic deaths. It was worse in Austin, where almost 20 per cent of all fatal crashes killed motorcyclists.
Ironically, the state also is asking motorcyclists to wear helmets for protection. It’s asking because Texas dropped mandatory helmet requirements for those over 21 years old — and because almost half of Texas motorcycle fatalities in 2011 involved a motorcyclist without a helmet, says the Texas Department of Transportation.
So, both motorcyclists and car drivers can take steps to reduce deaths and injuries. But will they?
Such change takes awareness, so here’s some more:
According to the Texas DOT, 87 per cent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill the motorcycle rider. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says motorcyclists are 25 times more likely to be injured and five times more likely to die in an accident than drivers of larger vehicles.
Clearly, motorcyclists are vulnerable. So what can we do?
Besides looking twice to ensure you don’t drive into the path of a motorcycle, it’s also wise to leave extra space between your vehicle and a motorcycle that’s ahead, since two-wheelers can stop much faster than cars. Give yourself and a motorcyclist ample room to react.
The motorcyclist you thus save will be someone else’s child, spouse, parent or loved one. And all you have to do is look twice — to save a life.