Safety Tips for Oklahoma Motorcyclists
Motorcycle accident rates for 2012 are alarming – nearly 5,000 motorcycle riders died last year, an increase of about 7 percent from 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About 93,000 motorcyclists were injured, an increase of about 15 percent from 2011.
In Oklahoma, motorcyclist deaths dropped from 98 to 84. Of those killed last year, 63 were not wearing helmets. Oklahoma has one of the nation’s most relaxed policies on helmets, requiring them only for motorcyclists under the age of 18.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocates for universal helmet laws to drive down motorcycle fatalities. The agency maintains that helmets would reduce deaths and fatalities among motorcycle drivers and passengers.
At one time, all but three states had universal helmet laws because the federal government required them for states to qualify for certain types of federal highway funding. In 1976, the federal government rolled back the policy, and Oklahoma repealed its universal motorcycle helmet law. Thus, most Oklahoma motorcyclists are free to decide whether to wear helmets, despite the dangers of going without them.
Oklahoma motorcyclists have plenty of resources to help them play it safe on the state’s highways. Motorcycle enthusiasts formed the Oklahoma Rider Education Program, and the group offers safety training and support to riders of all experience levels.
The nonprofit collaborates with Oklahoma motorcycle dealers who donate time and equipment so that new motorcyclists can learn the ins and outs of riding from trained instructors.
The program offers these safety tips for motorcyclists:
- Car and truck drivers have a hard time seeing motorcycles and reacting quickly enough to avoid a motorcycle crash. Pretend that you are invisible and take responsibility for your own safety, regardless of other drivers and riders.
- Use your motorcycle headlight, even during the day.
- Flash the bike’s brakes when slowing down to alert other drivers.
- Use the horn if necessary.
- Avoid other vehicles’ blind spots, and be aware that large trucks have significant blind spots.
- Wear a DOT-approved helmet and use eye protection like goggles.
- Choose light-colored attire to make yourself more visible to other drivers.
- Wear leather or other dense, protective material to help prevent road rash and other injuries in the event of a crash. Stick with long sleeves and pants; do not ride in T-shirts and shorts.
- Maximize your visibility and choose a lane where other drivers can readily see the motorcycle.
- Do not weave in traffic, and always use your turn signal.
- Visually scan ahead so that you have time to react to road hazards.
- Do not drive when you are drowsy or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Make sure you have plenty of practice riding before venturing out in heavy traffic. Train yourself to ride safely in various conditions: High winds, rain, uneven pavement, and sandy roads can seriously affect your ability to avoid a wreck.
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