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Our View: Common sense needed with motorcycles

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:48 a.m. CST

Motorcycle-related deaths are on the rise in Illinois.

The numbers say as much. Data from the Illinois Department of Transportation indicate fatal motorcycle accidents increased statewide by 13 percent from 2010 (131 deaths) to 2012 (148 deaths). State officials say that 110 of the 145 people who died in 2011 weren’t wearing helmets.

Locally, there were five motorcycle-related deaths in McHenry County in 2012 and four in 2011. This year, there have been at least four serious motorcycle crashes in the county, killing two.

On top of that, more people are riding motorcycles. In the past decade, there has been a 57 percent increase in the number of registered motorcyclists in Illinois.

With more motorcycle riders comes the need for awareness – from all motorcyclists and automobile drivers. Motorcycle safety in Illinois is a common-sense issue, but not a legislative issue.

In addition to motorcyclists knowing and practicing the rules of the road, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation lists on its website five key messages for riders:

• Get trained and licensed;

• Wear protective gear – all the gear, all the time – including a helmet manufactured to the standards set by the department of transportation;

• Ride unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs;

• Ride within your own skill limits;

• Be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider courses.

Of course, all the helmets and safety classes in the world will not protect a motorcyclist from reckless automobile drivers. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has these tips for automobile drivers regarding motorcycles:

• Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections;

• Allow more following distance for motorcycles;

• Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them;

• Don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.

With common-sense approach to motorcycle safety for riders and automobile drivers, we, hopefully, can reverse the trend of motorcycle-related fatalities in Illinois.

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