Bikers, motorists reminded to drive cautiously

With warmer, longer days approaching, law enforcement officials are reminding motorists and motorcyclists to take extra caution on the road.

“In general, we would like to remind motorists to share the roadway and always be aware of their surroundings,” Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Wapakoneta Post Sgt. Brian Jordan said. “Motorcycles are sometimes hard to see and a second look before pulling from a stop sign may save a life. We also strongly discourage drinking and riding, keeping riding skills sharp and riders alert.”

Jordan said wearing a helmet and quality riding gear also are important. He recommended wearing a motorcycle helmet and protective equipment, including a leather riding jacket, pants and boots, to offer protection in case of an accident.

In 2011, troopers with the Wapakoneta post handled 11 crashes involving motorcycles. Nine of the crashes involved injuries. Three were for failure to yield and three were deer or animal related. The majority of the crashes occurred in May, June and July.

To date in 2012, troopers with the Wapakoneta Post have handled two crashes involving motorcycles. One was an injury and the other property damage only.

Statewide, in 2011, there were 165 motorcycle fatalities with the driver of the motorcycle in error in more than 53 percent of those crashes. More than 41 percent of the crashes were alcohol related.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety recently kicked off its Ride SMART motorcycle safety campaign, aimed at reducing motorcycle deaths and injuries. The Ride SMART campaign targets riding sober, riding an endorsed motorcycle, riding alert, using the right gear, and rider training.

“It is unfortunate that we have already lost riders this year on our roads,” Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Thomas P. Charles said. “Because of this, it is vital that we continue the Ride SMART campaign and continue working with our traffic safety partners to reduce motorcycle deaths and injuries,” he said.

Ride SMART campaign partners, from the Ohio Department of Transportation to the American Motorcyclist Association and law enforcement agencies, reach out to as many motorcyclists and motorists as possible to remind them that everyone plays a critical role in motorcycle safety.