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Motorcycle season has begun, so please stay safe

Pennsylvania has nearly 846,000 licensed motorcycle riders, and you can bet that many of them will get on their bikes and ride in the coming weeks as temperatures warm, roads become clear of ice and snow, and motorcycle season arrives.

But not only will it be time to enjoy the open road alone or with friends in a riding club, wind in your face and sun on your shoulders, it’s also the season for motorcycle safety. Each year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation promotes motorcycle safety courses along with its “Live Free Ride Hard” campaign to reduce the amount of motorcycle crashes and fatalities in the state.

Introduced in 2010, the state-sponsored campaign promotes things such as reducing aggressive driving, obeying speed limits, avoiding drinking and driving, and encouraging wearing protective riding gear. A companion to the campaign is the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program, which offers free training.

State motorcycle-related statistics from 2016

Here are some motorcycle-related statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s “Crash Facts & Statistics Report” for 2016:

  • Motorcyclists involved in crashes accounted for the highest percentage of drinking drivers at nearly 8 percent, compared with other vehicle drivers such as passenger cars and light trucks. Don’t drink and drive.
  • Motorcycle fatalities reached 192 in 2016, a more than 7 percent increase from the 179 fatalities recorded in 2015.
  • Nearly 91 percent of the people killed in a motorcycle accident were the drivers, while 9 percent were passengers.
  • While helmetless motorcycle riders and passengers were involved in 38 percent of the state’s motorcycle accidents, they accounted for nearly half – or 49 percent – of the motorcycle fatalities. People wearing helmets accounted for 57 percent of the accidents and nearly 47 percent of the fatalities.
  • More than 17 percent of all fatal road crashes involved motorcycle accidents.

Whether you are a beginning or a veteran motorcyclist, consider taking advantage of any safety training. It just may help you. Early season riders also must make sure their bikes are in good condition after a season in storage, and be aware of potholes in the road. Also, never forget to be aware of your surroundings, especially with distracted drivers on smartphones. Have a safe motorcycle season.

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