Sheriff: Motorcycle safety requires awareness by all on the road
As we continue to enjoy our beautiful summer weather, many have taken to the open road, whether for family trips or just a tour around the county to take in the sunshine and warmth.
In addition to the passenger cars, pickup trucks and other four-wheeled modes of transportation, there are many motorcycles on the road as well.
Unfortunately, these two-wheeled vehicles pose somewhat of a challenge when it comes to traffic safety.
The first issue is the fact that any accident involving a motorcycle is most likely going to result in injury to the person or persons on the motorcycles.
The second is that these vehicles are much more difficult to see if we are not paying attention.
In the past week we have had two significant motor vehicle accidents which involved motorcycles. In one incident, a vehicle was stopped in its lane of traffic waiting to make a left turn. It was struck from behind by a motorcyclist who did not notice that the vehicle had come to a stop.
In this incident the driver of the motorcycle sustained substantial head injury, but those injuries were not life-threatening. Had the driver of the motorcycle been wearing a helmet, the driver would have most likely walked away with very limited injuries.
In the second accident, a motor vehicle failed to yield right of way to a motorcycle at a controlled intersection. Even though the driver of the motor vehicle was at fault in causing the accident, the driver of the motorcycle paid the price in the form of physical injury. Again in this accident, the driver of the motorcycle would have sustained fewer injuries had the driver been wearing a helmet.
My point to all of this is twofold. For those of us operating motor vehicles during these warm months of spring, summer and fall, please be aware that we are sharing the roads with motorcycles. These units present a much smaller profile than we are used to seeing.
Take the time to look both ways at intersections as you may miss motorcycles in your first glance. Give them plenty of space as they have to respond and react to things we don’t in our four-wheeled vehicles, such as wind gusts, debris on the roadway or even changes in road surface conditions.
Second, for those who are operating the motorcycles, be aware of your obligations.
First and foremost, wear a helmet! I understand that it is legal to operate without a helmet, but your chances of survival are greatly increased when wearing one.
Second; drive defensively. This is always good practice for all motorists, but you have much more to lose if you are not paying attention and anticipating the potential risks. I recently read an article about a motorcyclist who experienced a blowout of the rear tire, resulting in the passenger sustaining life-threatening injuries.
Another good practice is to have your headlamps on while in operation, even in daylight conditions. I have even seen some take this to a new level of installing a flashing relay which definitely increased the visible presence of the motorcycle.
Let’s all work together to keep this summer as safe as it can be for all travelers.
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Sheriff: Motorcycle safety requires awareness by all on the road