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Share the road, survive the ride: May is Motorcycle Safety Month

If you missed the Bay Area Motorcycle Show last weekend, there is still time to attend Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month events in other California cities. The California Highway Patrol and the state Office of Traffic Safety have begun their own awareness campaign, too, with the motto, “Survive the Ride.”

California has more motorcycles on the roads — well, more registered motorcycles, at least — than any other state. The 830,000 bikes are operated by an estimated 1.4 million riders.

To get an idea of how many that is, think about putting every resident of San Diego on a motorcycle. You would still need more than 50,000 additional riders to reach 1.4 million.

OTS reported in November 2014 that the number of deaths related to motorcycle accidents increased from 415 in 2011 to 435 in 2012 — a 4.6 percent rise. The percentage of motorcycle operators killed while legally drunk — a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater — increased slightly from 2011 to 2012: 22 percent versus 23 percent. The OTS added that the number of accidents involving improperly licensed operators also declined. The 36 percent in 2011 fell to 29 percent in 2012.

The national numbers are actually worse. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that from 2011 to 2012 the number of fatalities in motorcycle accidents increased from 4,630 to 4,986, or more than 7 percent. The following year, however, the NHTSA reported a decline of 6 percent.

While the goal is to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries, the CHP and OTS would rather have riders and other drivers focus on ways to stay safe, on how to survive the ride. The recommendations include completing a motorcycle safety course, dressing appropriately and wearing a regulation helmet.

Other motorists may not need helmets to share the road with motorcyclists, but they, too, should stay alert to the presence of motorcycles. This is especially true here in California, where lane-splitting — riding between lines of traffic — is permitted.

The CHP’s website has plenty of information about the state’s training program.

Source: Orange County Breeze, “Rising motorcycle fatalities and injuries bring safety tips from California Highway Patrol,” May 6, 2015

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