May is Motorcycle Safety Month

Published 8:47 am Wednesday, April 30, 2014

According to a release from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, 833 people have been killed in motorcycle crashes in the past 10 years — not so surprising given the recent uptick in bicycle and pedestrian deaths in the state. As such, Gov. Bobby Jindal recently joined a nationwide effort in declaring May Motorcycle Awareness and Safety Month.

The number of deaths has remained rather steady over the past 10 years, but the number of fatal motorcycle crashes is disproportionately high. In 2013, motorcycle riders accounted for 14 percent of vehicle casualties, but motorcycles represent less than 1 percent of vehicle traffic.

A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that motorcyclists are more than 30 times more likely to die in vehicle crashes than those in passenger cars.

“There’s no question that traveling by motorcycle presents greater risks than traveling by automobile or truck. However, those risks can be reduced when motorcycle and four-wheel vehicle drivers follow traffic laws and adhere to practical safety rules,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

The reasons for such a high mortality rate lay with both the motorcyclists themselves and the drivers of conventional automobiles.

Because of their scarcity, many motorcycle drivers are not as competent as they should be. Many are weekend riders who do so for the joy of it rather than truly for transportation purposes. Furthermore, many motorcyclists fail to follow proper driving procedures by weaving through traffic at breakneck speeds.

Vehicle drivers, on the other hand, often see motorcyclists as a nuisance or a lesser vehicle and do not afford them the same caution they would with another automobile. Motorcyclist should be given the same amount of space and courtesy as a full-sized vehicle. Furthermore, when a driver spots a motorcycle, he or she should be extra cautious because it easy for a motorcycle to disappear into a blind spot.

With gasoline prices, along with the prices of everything else, continuing to rise, motorcycle use is likely to increase in the near future, but with the help of everyone on the road, the one thing that does not have to rise is the number of motorcycle fatalities in Louisiana.