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State Patrol reminds drivers to watch for motorcyclists

SOUTH POINT - During warmer weather, the traffic on roadways tends to increase and this is particularly true of motorcycle traffic.

This spring and summer, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is pushing motorcycle safety as part of its "Ride Smart. Drive Smart." partnership to help make it a safe and enjoyable riding season.

"Motorcyclists generally do a safe job operating their bikes on the road, but one of the reasons for motorcycle crashes is that for other motorists, motorcycles are a little harder to see," said Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Carl Roark.

"At an intersection, if a driver takes only a quick glance around, it's easier to miss a motorcycle than it is a car."

Earlier this month, an eastern Lawrence County man died in a single vehicle motorcycle wreck on State Route 7. Last year, two people lost their lives in a single vehicle motorcycle accident on U.S. 52.

Statewide, Ohio crash statistics for 2004 show 1,357 motorcycle-involved crashes were caused by non-motorcycle drivers, including 35 fatal crashes.

The idea of the campaign is to make automobile drivers more aware of the motorcylists with whom they share the pavement.

The Patrol has provided some tips for other vehicle drivers :

4Look for motorcycles - Ohio has a large number of registered motorcycles. Although our riding season is not year-round, motorcyclists ride in all kinds of weather conditions.

4Check your mirrors - Before making a turn or a lane change, check all your mirrors for motorcycles. Because they are smaller than four-wheeled vehicles, motorcycles may be more difficult to see.

4Check your blindspots - Just checking your mirrors before maneuvering your vehicle is not enough. All vehicles have blindspots. Turn your head to check those dangerous areas before turning, changing lanes, or backing up.

4Signal your intentions - Before making a turn or a lane change, use your turn signals to alert other roadway users. All motorists, especially motorcyclists, appreciate knowing your intentions.

4Watch your turns - Many multi-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles are the result of the driver turning into the path of the motorcycle. Left turns are particularly dangerous, because many drivers misjudge the speed of an oncoming motorcycle. When in doubt, wait it out.

4Create some space - Skilled motorcyclists are safe operators. Give them room to maneuver, and avoid tailgating.

4Avoid driver distractions - Any activity inside a motor vehicle can distract the driver enough to cause a crash. Driving is not a part-time job.

4They're your neighbors - Motorcyclists come from all walks of life. Perhaps your neighbor, a co-worker, or even a family member rides a motorcycle. To learn more about why people ride motorcycles, just ask them. Many are happy to share their enthusiasm for riding.

The goal of "Ride Smart. Drive Smart." is to help motorcyclists and other drivers share the road safely.

Three key safety awareness themes to achieve this goal are to get trained (including knowing proper safety gear to wear); get licensed; stay sober (incorporating the AMA's national Ride Straight program) and, in the case of other drivers, be aware by looking out for motorcyclists, the Patrol reported.