Uneasy riders

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

With more motorcycles on the road, Ohio reminds drivers and riders that safety is everyone’s responsibility

COLUMBUS — Ohio drivers should expect to see more motorcycle riders on the road as peak riding season gets underway, according to Motorcycle Ohio, a division of the Ohio Traffic Safety Office. Motorcycle Ohio is raising awareness about motorcycle safety for National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May.

“There are over 500,000 registered motorcycles on Ohio’s roadways and safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Andy Wilson. “All drivers must look twice on the highway, at intersections, and any time they are changing lanes – you may just save someone’s life.”

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In 2023, 230 Ohioans were killed in motorcycle-related crashes, a 47 percent increase from just five years ago.

• 82 percent of motorcycle crashes occur between May and October.

• Speed is a leading cause of motorcycle crashes. 32 percent of riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to 25 percent of passenger car drivers.

• 27 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes last year involved alcohol or drugs, up from 16 percent in 2022.

• 78 percent of motorcycle fatalities in 2023 involved riders who were untrained.

“Motorcycle crashes are preventable,” said Kimberly Schwind, assistant director of the Ohio Traffic Safety Office. “We know the training that happens in Motorcycle Ohio courses is saving lives. With everyone’s help, we can make Ohio’s roadways safer for us all.”

The Ohio Department of Public Safety — through the Ohio Revised Code — is charged with establishing a motorcycle safety and education program. This year, the department’s Motorcycle Ohio program is celebrating 36 years of providing Ohio’s riders the opportunity to improve their skills and make the roadways safer for all motorists.

“Each year, about 12,000 riders commit to safe riding by completing a Motorcycle Ohio training course,” said Michele Piko, the program coordinator for Motorcycle Ohio. “This year more riders are signing up to get trained, and we are experiencing near-record course registration. Courses are underway now at training sites in 33 counties across the state.”

Funded by motorcycle plate fees and class registrations, the mission of Motorcycle Ohio is to provide affordable, effective training courses, and to reduce fatalities and injuries on Ohio’s roadways through rider education, public information campaigns, and licensing improvement.

On Friday, the program also presented its first “Saved by the Helmet” awards of 2024 to six riders. 

The award is given throughout the year to Ohio riders who survive serious crashes while wearing a helmet. The riders received a certificate of recognition and a new replacement helmet from the Department of Public Safety.

Riders over 18 are not required by Ohio law to wear a helmet, but Motorcycle Ohio hopes that acknowledging riders who wear proper protective gear will help promote and increase awareness of the life-saving value of motorcycle helmets.

For more information on Ohio’s courses or to nominate a rider who was “Saved by The Helmet,” please contact the Motorcycle Ohio office at 1-800-837-4337 or visit their website at www.Motorcycle.Ohio.gov.