May is Motorcycle Awareness Month


XENIA — Greene County Safe Communities Coalition is working together with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind vehicle drivers to share the road during Motorcycle Awareness Month this May.

The awareness campaign aims to educate vehicle drivers and motorcyclists on how each motorist can be more aware of the other, creating safer roads and saving lives in the process.

“As the weather begins to warm, we’ll start to see more motorcyclists out on our roads, and we want to make sure other motorists see them, too,” said Jillian Drew, Safe Communities Coordinator and Health Educator at Greene County Public Health. “It can be easy to overlook a motorcycle due to their smaller size. For this reason, it’s all the more vital we put forth extra effort in keeping watch. We encourage all motorists to remember to share the road.”

GCPH officials reported that in 2016, there were 5,286 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes, a 5 percent increase from 2015 (5,029). Those deaths account for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year. This increase in motorcycle fatalities continues a tragic trend over the last three years, where fatalities have increased since 2014.

“Wearing a helmet is imperative to the safety of our riders,” said Lt. Matt Schmenk, Ohio State Patrol Post Commander, Xenia. “Just like motorists buckling their seat belts, using a helmet can drastically increase survival rates in the event of a vehicle crash,” he said. NHTSA data estimates that helmets saved 1,772 motorcyclists’ lives in 2015, and that 740 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn their helmets.

Lt. Schmenk also offered general tips to drivers on how to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle:

-Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has the same rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.

-Always us a turn signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.

-If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.

-Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.

-Always allow more follow distance—three to four seconds—when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

-Never drive distracted or impaired.

“Motorcyclists must also take precautions to remain safe on the road,” added Lt. Schmenk.

Schmenk said motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these steps:

-Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.

-Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.

-Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.

-Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.

-Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.

-Never ride distracted or impaired.

For more information on motorcycle safety, visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles.

For more information about the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition, contact Jillian Drew at 937-374-5683 or by email at jdrew@gcph.info.