Watch Out for Motorcycles Now That Riding Weather Has Returned

Mar 20, 2019
File Photo by Jack Reynolds

The arrival of spring heralds riding weather for motorcycle lovers, and that means motorists should be extra alert while sharing the roadways with their more vulnerable two-wheeled counterparts. Longtime motorcyclist Fred Conley of Tuckerton Beach said the key is to use common sense – and common courtesy.

“I guess my advice would be to stay off your phone and pay attention,” he said. “Take your time. You could kill someone trying to save a couple seconds. Make sure you use your directionals. Do not throw things out windows, such as cigarettes. Just be considerate and aware!”

According to statistics from the N.J. Attorney General’s Office’s Department of Law and Public Safety, more than two-thirds of crashes involving a motorcycle and another vehicle occur because the driver of the other vehicle didn’t see the motorcycle. More than half occur at intersections.

In 2016, the top contributing factors for motorcycle fatalities were driver inattention, followed by unsafe speed and improper passing. The same year, 31 percent of motorcycle drivers who died as a result of a crash were under the influence of alcohol – 6 percent higher than the national average.

In New Jersey, 81 people were killed in motorcycle crashes in 2017, compared to 69 in 2016. The age group accounting for the most deaths (23 of 81) was 30 to 39. The 50-to-64 age group accounted for the second most deaths (22), followed by the 21 to 29 age group (19).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are more than 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and five times more likely to be injured.

In instances of motorcycle crashes not involving other vehicles, 40 percent of fatalities occur during turns and corners, while more than two-thirds result from excessive speed. Often a major contributing factor is inexperience – 22 percent of motorcycle fatalities did not have a motorcycle endorsement. Riders are reminded to follow through on licensing requirements.  —V.F.

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