Recently, Governor Bruce Rauner joined forces with safety advocates and fellow motorcycle enthusiasts to urge all Illinois motorists to be especially vigilant and aware of motorcycles as the 2017 riding season kicks off. As part of an annual tradition, banners and signs throughout the state support the “Start Seeing Motorcycles” campaign and remind the public to be alert for motorcycles.
While motorcycles make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles in Illinois, they are involved in a whopping 15 percent of traffic-related fatalities in the state, and the problem seems to be escalating. According to a preliminary report by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), there were 154 motorcycle accident fatalities in 2016- eight more than the year before. It is the responsibility of pedestrians, motorcyclists, other motor vehicle operators, and bicyclists to do what it takes to help reduce the number of catastrophic motorcycle crashes that occur in Illinois.
Safety Tips for Riders
Many motorcycle accidents that cause serious injuries and deaths can be prevented when riders take a few simple precautions.
- Protective gear should be used every time, all of the time. Government studies report that riders who do not wear helmets are 40 percent more likely to suffer fatal head injuries and about three times more likely to experience severe brain injuries in an accident than those who wear them.
- New riders should take advantage of the free motorcycle safety courses offered by IDOT.
- Motorcycle maintenance and inspections are serious business. Bikes should be checked regularly to ensure that all lights, brakes, directional signals, horns, and tires are in good condition and functioning properly.
- Obeying traffic laws, maintaining a safe following distance, and being especially careful at intersections can help prevent motorcycle crashes from occurring.
Motorcycle Awareness for Others on the Road
Other Illinois roadway users can help prevent motorcycle crashes simply by being more aware of their surroundings. It is recommended that drivers and pedestrians alike check and double check intersections before proceeding. And since blind spots can make it difficult to see motorcycles, motorists should be especially cautious when changing lanes or reversing. As always, motor vehicle operators should avoid distractions like cell phones and other electronic equipment, and avoid driving while under the influence of drugs, prescription medications or alcohol.
If everyone does their part, 2017 could be the safest year yet for motorcyclists in Illinois.