Washington County Sheriff releases safety tips for Motorcycle Safety Month

WASHINGTON CO. – As summer is approaching, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department would like to remind community members to safely share the road with motorcycles.

Sheriff Brent Miller

“The beauty of the countryside is easily taken in from a motorcycle and as the weather warms, the safety of our community motorcyclists must be at the forefront of our mind,” said Sheriff Brent Miller.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 4,985 motorcycle fatalities in 2018. This number accounts for a major over-representation of fatalities in vehicular accidents. Motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a motor vehicle traffic collision.

Awareness could save a life.

  • Motorcyclists, first and foremost, need to protect themselves by knowing their motorcycles.
  • Familiarize yourself with your bike before you head out and make sure you are ready for the road.
  • The skills and experience necessary for driving a car and riding a motorcycle are different, so practice is encouraged before heading out on the open road.
  • Practice in a controlled setting in all types of conditions – inclement weather, poor roads, debris in the road, etc.
  • The more time you practice riding your motorcycle, the more comfortable and confident you will be when met with a potentially hazardous condition.
  • Another way motorcyclists can protect themselves is by always wearing a Department of Transportation certified helmet. This helmet has been designed and rigorously tested to protect you during accidents. They are the first line of protection for cyclists.

“Motorcycles are enjoyable to ride, especially with friends. Remember that when carrying a passenger, you need to make sure they know how to stay safe on a bike too,” added Sheriff Miller.

  • Communicate with your passenger before you ride together to let them know your expectations. Talk to your passenger about staying as far forward on the bike as possible, holding on to the driver’s belt or hips.
  • The passenger should always leave their feet on the footrest.
  • Remind them to keep their legs away from the muffler, so they do not get burned. Finally, remind them to lean when you do and in the same direction. It is important that passengers understand that unlike in a car, they have an active role on a motorcycle.

One of the biggest tips for staying safe on a motorcycle is to be alcohol and drug-free while riding.

“These items can impact your ability to make quick decisions that are frequently necessary on a bike,” said Sheriff Miller. “They will also slow your reaction time which can be dangerous on a bike.”

If you are interested in riding motorcycles, you must have an endorsement on your driver’s license. In Indiana, you must pass a test to receive a motorcycle endorsement. This endorsement requires both a written test and a skills test.

You can learn more about the requirements for acquiring a motorcycle endorsement at https://www.in.gov/rsi/motorcycle-endorsement.

“We can also do our part to ensure motorcyclists are safe on the roadways this spring and summer,” said Sheriff Miller. “First and foremost, share the road with and be on the lookout for motorcycles.”

  • Give them the room needed to be safe and be careful to not crowd them or follow too closely. It is often easy to misjudge the distance a motorcycle is away from you or how fast they are going, so leave extra room.
  • When driving a vehicle, double-check the distance you are from a motorcycle
  • Put your cell phone away. As a reminder, it is against the law in Indiana to have a cell phone in your hand while driving. Also, pay attention to your surroundings as a driver.
  • Remember to look carefully each way before pulling out onto a roadway. It can be difficult to see oncoming motorcycles.
  • Never trust a turn signal on a motorcycle. Many motorcycles do not have self-canceling turn signals. Riders might forget to turn them off after changing lanes or making a turn.
  • As a car driver, it is important to see the actual rider as it a might be your neighbor, family member, or friend. Being aware of them on the roadways will help keep them safe.:

“The Washington County Sheriff’s Department wants everyone to go home safely at night,” added Sheriff Miller. “By increasing awareness and using caution on the road, we can help. Be smart when driving. Limit your distractions and always remember to share the road.”