As another beautiful Ohio summer begins its transition into fall, motorcyclists are flooding the roads in much larger numbers to enjoy their last rides before storing their bikes for the winter. The increased presence of vulnerable motorcycles has led to an uptick in motorcycle accidents on Ohio interstates and roads, a trend that began over the summer.
State Highway Patrol released data showing 157 motorcyclists lost their lives in 2017, a decrease of 43 fatalities from 2016 but still high enough to merit concern. Accidents occur during late nights and when drivers simply find themselves distracted or inattentive. Those wrecks resulting in death are attributed to riders simply not wearing safety helmets, which are not required under Ohio law.
Overall, motorcycle-related deaths in Ohio increased by 50% between 2013 and 2016. Since May this year, 68 motorcyclists have lost their lives.
With 35% of last year’s motorcycle deaths stemming from drug or alcohol use, and 29% attributed to not wearing head protection, awareness programs are sprouting up in counties like Franklin, where the state sees its highest rate of accidents.
Research shows many accidents are avoidable when certain precautions are taken, though many are conflicted when hearing excess gear saves lives. It is the simple measures, such as following posted speed limits, avoiding operating motorcycles when intoxicated or tired, and proper lane usage that may avert future tragedies.
Look twice, save a life. That is what motorcycle riders believe vehicles should do, and rightfully so; many bikers are blindsided by distracted or impaired drivers, even those rushing to work. It takes equal responsibility of motorcyclists to slow down and be cognizant of their surroundings.
Millions of cellphone users texting while driving contributed to an increase in crashes, too. For adults over 18, Ohio Anti-Texting Laws are considered ‘secondary’, meaning an officer must have some primary purpose in pulling cars over before ticketing under that law. Texting while driving is prohibited when persons are under 18, with stiff fines and license suspension possible.
The Risk Institute at OSU Fisher College of Business is spearheading a countrywide initiative to forecast, then control, distracted driving behaviors which contribute to negligence. Coupled with Ohio State Patrol, local law enforcement and non-profit efforts in fostering safer driving habits, there is no shortage of education available.
However, maybe the best education was already out there.
Maintaining a safe distance between vehicles, passing only when it is safe to do so, proper use of lanes and avoiding the operation of motorcycles when doing so may jeopardize fellow riders and vehicles should always be practiced. As an added benefit, take motorcycle safety courses to brush up on rules of the road.
Vehicles should always look three times or more, even if that means pausing several seconds longer at stop signs. That extra time could determine if motorcyclists make it safely home, or are added to Ohio State Police’s death toll data.
An ounce of prevention could have spared 75 lives this year. Do your part in making motorcycling in Ohio safe again, and everyone goes home.
Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC offers comprehensive representation for victims of motorcycle accidents. Contact our Toledo-area firm at 419-241-5500 to discuss your injury claim.
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