Keep an eye out for motorcycles
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.