Keep an eye out for mo­tor­cy­cles

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Each year in Mary­land, an av­er­age of 70 mo­tor­cy­clists are killed in traf­fic crashes and 1,400 more are in­jured, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion. Half of those crashes in­volve a sin­gle rider and are a re­sult of speed­ing or im­paired or dis­tracted driv­ing, or some com­bi­na­tion of those three.

Last year, there were 73 mo­tor­cy­cle fa­tal­i­ties in Mary­land, up from 72 in 2015, MDOT re­ports.

Five of those fa­tal crashes in­volved Charles County res­i­dents. On Feb. 28, Eric Don­nell, 42, of Bel Al­ton was killed when his mo­tor­cy­cle col­lided head on with a sports util­ity ve­hi­cle on Turkey Hill Road in White Plains. Am­ber D. Reese, 32, of Wal­dorf was killed on June 9 when she col­lided with a truck while rid­ing on U.S. 301 near McKen­dree Road. On July 21, Adam Rogers, 32, of In­dian Head was killed af­ter his mo­tor­cy­cle struck a curb at the in­ter­sec­tion of Matthews Road and Mar­shall Hall Road. Nine­teen-year-old Aaron Thomp­son of Wal­dorf died af­ter he crashed into a car at the in­ter­sec­tion of U.S. 301 and Cen­tral Av­enue. And Teresa Judy Chris­tensen, 49, of Wal­dorf died af­ter her mo­tor­cy­cle left the road on Oct. 30 and struck a pole off Sta­vors Road in Wal­dorf.

This month, dur­ing Mo­tor­cy­cle Safety Month, MDOT launched a cam­paign in West­ern Mary­land — where fa­tal ac­ci­dents have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately high — to fo­cus on re­duc­ing mo­tor­cy­cle crashes statewide. It’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of both the mo­tor­cy­clist and the driv­ers around them to keep ev­ery­one on the roads safe, whether in Cum­ber­land or Cobb Is­land.

Like big-rig truck­ers, mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ers are gen­er­ally among the best and most skilled driv­ers on our road­ways. They have to be. Mo­tor­cy­clists need to be es­pe­cially vig­i­lant, be­cause some­times other motorists don’t see them read­ily, or fully process that a mo­tor­cy­cle is in the other lane.

MDOT en­cour­ages mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ers to make sure they have the proper train­ing. A li­cense with a mo­tor­cy­cle en­dorse­ment is re­quired to op­er­ate a mo­tor­cy­cle in the state. Of course mo­tor­cy­clists must obey all the rules of the road and be aware at all times.

MDOT also warns against speed­ing and ag­gres­sive driv­ing as well as drunk driv­ing. The de­part­ment re­ports that 40 per­cent of all mo­tor­cy­cle fa­tal­i­ties in 2016 were al­co­hol-re­lated.

Ad­di­tion­ally, wear­ing the proper safety gear can help pre­vent se­ri­ous in­juries in a crash. Hel­mets are re­quired for all mo­tor­cy­cle op­er­a­tors and pas­sen­gers. Some mo­tor­cy­clists suc­cumb to the lures of warm weather in the sum­mer months and don only T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. Such an en­sem­ble of­fers no pro­tec­tion in the event of an ac­ci­dent. Proper coats, pants and boots de­signed for the rig­ors of the ride should go along with the re­quired hel­met.

Driv­ers should al­ways look twice for mo­tor­cy­clists by us­ing their mir­rors and look­ing over their shoul­ders to en­sure safe turns, lane changes and merges, MDOT warns. Driv­ers should also pro­vide mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ers with plenty of space. Be­cause mo­tor­cy­cles are smaller, they can stop more quickly than many of the ve­hi­cles on the road, catch­ing oth­ers off guard. Ad­di­tion­ally, MDOT cau­tions against dis­tracted driv­ing, ag­gres­sive driv­ing and speed­ing.

For more in­for­ma­tion and tips for mo­tor­cy­cle safety, go to www.mva.mary­land.gov/safety/mhso/pro­gram-mo­tor­cy­cle-safety.htm.

With care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion for oth­ers — and a healthy dose of com­mon sense — there’s no rea­son that mo­tor­cy­cles and other ve­hi­cles can’t share the road, for the safety and en­joy­ment of us all. Please be care­ful out there.

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