Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Officials Urge Motorists to Help Reduce the Number of Motorcycle Crash Deaths

Over the past ten years, 833 people were killed in motorcycle crashes in Louisiana. As part of efforts to save lives, Louisiana has joined the national Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month campaign effective through the month of May.

Louisiana joined the nationwide effort when Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a proclamation declaring May as Motorcycle Awareness and Safety Month.  The proclamation states, “Louisiana citizens recognize the fact that all licensed vehicle operators have the same rights and privileges on our roads and highways, and all motorists should be aware of their surroundings while driving.”

While year-to-year motorcycle crash deaths have remained relatively stable in Louisiana over the past ten years, such fatalities continue to represent a significant percentage of all highway deaths in the state.  According to preliminary data, motorcycle riders in 2013 accounted for almost 14 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths, but motorcycles represented less than 1 percent of all vehicles involved in crashes in Louisiana.

Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a detailed study of motorcycle fatalities and injuries for the year 2011. The study concluded that motorcyclists were over 30 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in motor vehicle traffic crash and five times more likely to be injured.  “There’s no question that traveling by motorcycle presents greater risks than traveling by automobile or truck. However, those risks can be reduced when motorcycle and four-wheel vehicle drivers follow traffic laws and adhere to practical safety rules,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

Automobile and truck drivers can play an important role in keeping motorcycle riders safe. Many crashes with motorcycles happen when a driver does not see the motorcyclist. Motorcycles have the same rights to the road as do larger vehicles – give them a full lane. Drivers should allow plenty of space between their vehicle and a motorcycle, even the lightest contact can cause a spill.

According to NHTSA, the causes of many motorcycle crashes can be attributed to:

• Lack of basic riding skills.

• Failure to appreciate the limitations of the motorcycle.

• Failure to use special precautions while riding.

• Failure to use defensive driving techniques.

• Lack of specific braking and cornering skills.

• Failure to follow speed limits.