Fatal motorcycle crashes at a record high in Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri motorcycle crashes have resulted in 475 deaths since 2012, with 122 fatalities occurring in last year alone, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.
With May serving as motorcycle awareness month, MoDOT is launching a campaign to raise awareness and education levels of Missouri drivers in hopes of preventing motorcycle crashes, injuries and deaths on state roads.
Scott Jones, MoDOT highway safety program administrator, said Missouri motorcycle safety is headed in the wrong direction.
“With 122 motorcycle deaths last year, they represented 13 percent of fatalities on the road even though they were far less of the number of vehicles on the road,” Jones said. “Missourian’s deserve better. People deserve to be able to go home and not worry about being killed in a crash.”
Jones cited a better economy and lower gas prices as to why the roadways are busier, leading to more crashes with venerable motorcycles riders.
“We all play a part in keeping each other safe on the roads,” Jones said. “It’s not just ourselves, but the decisions we make that can affect many other lives out there. Ride aware of what’s going on around you.”
While understanding your surroundings is often the first step for road safety, Jones said it’s more complicated than that.
“It’s more in-depth than just being aware of your surroundings, because you always have to expect the unexpected,” Jones said. “If you see a motorcyclist, make sure you always know where they are, because a lot of times when cars pull on to roads they will either not see them or not realize how fast they’re really going.”
MoDOT emphasizes driver’s failure to check blind spots when changing lanes or driving through an intersection is one of the most common mistakes drivers make. They also recommend that drivers always keep a safe distance of three or four seconds behind motorcyclists, to allow enough reaction time in case of an emergency
Jones said that motorcyclists have a responsibility to act as defensive drivers themselves, always positioning their vehicle in the most visible lane and position for all drivers. Making sure all passengers are wearing proper protective riding gear and brightly colored reflective tape or stickers also provides necessary visibility for cars on the road.
Even if riders and all other drivers follow these guidelines, speed is often the top contributing factor in motorcycle deaths.
“A car or motorcycle may be able to go faster, but a roadway is only designed for certain speeds and a person’s body can only take certain impact,” Jones said. “Slow down, put the phone, because the limit is there for a reason.”
Jones said he hopes people will stop accepting crashes and deaths as something that was unavoidable.
“I think a lot of people have kind of accepted crashes and fatalities as, you know we can’t do anything about it.” Jones said. “The truth is, we can do something about it. Slow down, buckle up, wear your helmet, don’t be distracted. Make sure you’re taking responsibility for your own actions and keeping yourself and each other safe out there.”
Mike Right, member of the Automobile Club of Missouri, said every driver in Missouri has room to improve and help save lives.
“A single motorist fatality is one too many, let alone the 122 motorcyclist deaths that we saw in Missouri last year,” said Right. “All drivers can help bring those numbers down by making sure all basic safety rules are followed on our roads, like using turn signals, not driving impaired or distracted and using the safety tools available to you such as safety belts and helmets.”
MoDOT offers motorcycle training classes at 29 locations across the state of Missouri and Jones encourages riders to consistently stay up to date with the latest rules and safety tips while traveling on Missouri roads.
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