Put safety first when you take to the road

Bikers are dusting off and tuning up their motorcycles as warmer weather finally has arrived.

Motorcycle Awareness Month is coming up in May but now is a good time for bikers and all drivers to remember some important safe driving measures.

The number of motorcycle accidents in Ohio has been up and down during the past several years.

There were 2,973 people injured across the state in motorcycle accidents in 2011, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The number increased to 3,261 in 2012, but dropped to 2,828 in 2013. There were 3,674 motorcycle wrecks with injury in 2008.

In Jefferson County, the number of motorcycle accidents involving injury peaked at 28 in 2009 but dropped to 15 in 2012. There were 16 motorcycle accidents with injuries in 2013.

There were 132 motorcycle fatal motorcycle accidents statewide last year, down from 156 in 2012 and 208 in 2008.

Drivers need to remember to safely share the road with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcyclists are reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists in case other drivers are not looking out for motorcycle riders.

Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on the road, often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot.

Drivers need to make visual checks for motorcycles by often checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too. They should follow the rules of the roadway, be alert to other drivers and always wear a helmet and other protective gear.

A helmet that meets federal standards reduces the chances of being killed in an accident by about 40 percent, according to the author of the Governor’s Highway Safety Association report. Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle occupants in the event of a crash.

Drivers of cars or trucks need to allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when behind a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars. Drivers of bikes also need to follow basic safety measures.

Novice cyclists should enroll in a motorcycle safety course.

Drinking alcohol and driving any vehicle has serious consequences, whether behind the handlebars or behind the wheel.

Get ready for a safe biking season.