Local patrol post urging motorcycle safety

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2003

It was a deadly weekend on Ohio roadways as four people lost their lives in traffic accidents. All four people were riding motorcycles.

"Motorcycle use is on the rise," said Lt. Carl Roark, commander of the Ironton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. "More and more people are riding every year, and while traffic fatalities as a whole are decreasing, motorcycle fatalities are increasing."

Roark said many of the crashes can be attributed to one thing - inexperience. More people are buying motorcycle and getting on the road with them without little or no training, Roark said. Novice motorcycle riders are encouraged to become well-acquainted with their new purchase before taking to the highways.

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"To ride safely, you must understand the limits of your abilities, the capabilities of your motorcycle, and the environment in which you are riding," Roark said.

For free information on motorcycle training for riders, cycle owners may call Motorcycle Ohio at 1-800-83-RIDER.

He also said alcohol played a factor in other crashes.

"Half of all fatalities involving a motorcycle also involve alcohol," Roark said. If you look at traffic fatalities as a whole, 30 percent are alcohol related, but when you separate motorcycles out, that statistic jumps."

Whether experienced or beginner, Roark said motorcycle riders should make themselves as visible as possible when riding, to make sure other motorists can see them.

This includes wearing light colored clothing or a reflective vest.

Some other safety tips offered by the Patrol:

4Never assume the right of way: Always consider how vulnerable you are on a motorcycle.

Be especially careful of vehicles turning left in front of you.

One-third of motorcycle-vehicle crashes occur in this manner.

4Remember Ohio law: Ohio law states that no one under the age of 18 can operate a motorcycle or be a passenger on a motorcycle unless they are wearing a helmet.

4Sharing lanes: Never ride more than two abreast in a lane and never share a lane with a vehicle other than a motorcycle.

Position your motorcycle to the left of your lane to discourage other motorists from coming into it.

Always leave yourself an escape route.

4Communicate with other drivers: Flash your lights or sound your horn to alert other motorists of your presence.

Always use your turn signals to communicate your intentions.

Travel trailers may be considered an attachment, but they are an extension of the vehicle you are driving.

Boat, travel, and utility trailers are commonly purchased and seen on Ohio's roadways during the summer months.

4Sway control: The safety factor in towing trailers can be increased considerably with the installation of a well-designed sway control device.

This equipment helps to reduce trailer sway and aids in preventing such sway from throwing the vehicle out of control.

Speed limits: Drivers operating vehicles with towing trailers must adhere to the same speed limits as regular passenger cars.

Consideration should be given to stopping distance due to added weight.

4Passing and turning: Give careful consideration to the added length of the trailer behind your vehicle in passing and turning movements.

Make sure you have ample space and use turn signals.

Passenger safety: Ohio law prohibits any occupants in a trailer or manufactured mobile home while it is being towed on a street or highway.

In Ohio last year, there were more 3,267 traffic crashes involving motorcycles. Those accidents claimed 96 lives.