There has been an increasing number of motorcycles out and about during the warm Kansas weather this summer.
While drivers should be cautious of the additional traffic, those who choose to ride motorcycles also should take extra safety precautions.
“I have been an avid motorcycle rider for nearly 40 years and I know firsthand how enjoyable it is to take a relaxing ride on a Sunday afternoon,” said Arkansas City Police Chief Dan Ward.
“As you ride, your worries seem to disappear as you become fully engaged in the activity of cruising down the road. To quote Dan Aykroyd, ‘You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle, any kind of motorcycle!’ While it is a fun and popular activity, unfortunately statistics prove it can be dangerous. The fact is motorcycle riders are 30 times more likely to die than drivers of other vehicles.”
Injury statistics also show a much higher rate of accidents in which motorcycle riders are involved.
“There isn’t much to protect you from the road, other vehicles or objects,” Ward said. “To reduce your odds of an accident, there are several things you can do which are simple and effective.”
He suggested the following actions as ways to avoid injury while still enjoying the freedom provided by traveling by motorcycle.
Wear protective gear
Ward said the most important precaution any motorcycle rider can take is to wear appropriate protective gear and equipment.
“Wearing a helmet, gloves and jacket will help reduce your injuries, should you have an accident, as they will put a layer of protection between you and the surface you come in contact (with),” he said.
“While concussions and brain damage are at the top of the list of injuries, simply wearing an approved helmet can greatly reduce the risk of injury and even death.”
Don’t drink and ride
As with operating any motor vehicle, Ward said drinking alcohol and riding do not mix.
“Drinking and driving a car is dangerous,” he said. “Drinking and riding a motorcycle will practically ensure you will crash.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that alcohol was a factor in 42 percent of all motorcycle accidents.
The same caution should be exercised with any other form of intoxicating stimulant.
Learn how to ride
The skill level needed to pass the riding portion of the Kansas driver’s license test is very low, according to Ward.
“To really understand how to take avoidance measures, rather than locking up the brakes, it is highly recommended that riders take at least a basic riding course,” Ward said.
“In my time riding, I have taken two such courses, and I learned something from both and became a better rider.”
Slow down, enjoy the ride
Simply slowing down and not speeding can greatly reduce the risk of injury or death while riding a motorcycle.
“It is common knowledge (that) the faster cars travel, the greater the damage and more severe the injuries are,” Ward said.
“In fact, that is the entire basis for (the) police department’s traffic enforcement efforts.”
When vehicle speeds are reduced, so are the number and severity of traffic accidents that occur.
“For motorcycles, it is even more critical, and IIHS found that 48 percent of all motorcycle accidents involved speeding,” Ward said.
Be visible on your motorcycle
Many motorcycle accidents occur because other drivers don’t see motorcycles on the road.
“Wearing reflective gear and not riding at night goes a long way to avoiding an accident,” Ward said.
“Even when taking such precautions, you should always assume the other vehicles do not see you.”
He emphasized that taking safety precautions doesn’t have to eliminate the fun one can have riding a motorcycle on the open road.
“By taking a few simple steps to ensure your safety, motorcycle riding can be a safe and very fun activity,” Ward said.
“I encourage anyone who rides, or is thinking about riding, to follow these safety tips and make the most of their time on the road.”