State officials launch Motorcycle Awareness Month in effort to reduce Illinois motorcycle accidents

Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois State Police and the Illinois Department of Transportation have proclaimed May Motorcycle Awareness Month and urge motorists to be vigilant in looking for motorcycles.

Our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers blog recently reported a pair of serious Chicago motorcycle accidents in April as riding season begins in earnest and we encourage all motorists and riders to ride and drive safely.
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“Start Seeing Motorcycles” will be the primary message geared toward motorists as the state seeks to continue the decrease in Illinois motorcycle accidents and traffic fatalities. Overall traffic fatalities decreased last year to 911, from the 1,043 reported in 2008, while fatal motorcycle accidents dropped slightly, to 130 compared to the 135 recorded in 2008.

“We are very encouraged to see a drop in the number of motorcycle fatalities on our roads and would like to see that trend continue,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “This campaign reinforces the importance of motorcycle safety. We urge every motorist on the road to be on the lookout for motorcycle riders and to ‘Share the Road’ with them.”

Celebrities backing the Illinois campaign include mixed martial artists and motorcycle riders Matt Hughes and Gray Maynard, as well as Stephanie Reaves, the first woman to earn a professional drag racing license through the American Motorcycle Association.

“Motorcycle safety is a fundamental topic close to my heart and thousands of riders in Illinois and across the nation,” Reaves said. “Whether I am racing on the track or traveling on the road, I make sure to wear the proper riding gear and am always aware of my surroundings.”

Additionally, officials are pushing all riders to take advantage of free riding courses being offered to beginning and intermediate riders. Last year, IDOT trained 16,701 students in its Cycle Rider Safety Training Program.

“The Illinois State Police is committed to sustaining the downward trend of traffic crash fatalities in Illinois, and ensuring the safety of motorcyclists,” said Acting Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken. “Troopers throughout the state will continue to monitor speed limits, check license endorsements, and enforce “Fatal Five” moving violations.”
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State Police offer the following safety tips:

– Don’t drink and ride.

– Wearing a helmet, protective body wear, boots and gloves is strongly recommended.

– Wearing brightly colored clothing can improve your visibility during the day — wear reflective clothing at night.

– Ride within your skills and capacity. Riding beyond 80 percent of capacity leaves no margin for error, or for the unexpected.

– Stay alert to what’s ahead. Don’t become fixed on what’s just beyond your front tire. Be alert to what’s 12-16 seconds ahead, including vehicles, potholes, roadway obstructions, and other potential hazards.

– In an emergency, remember that motorcycles have a far better stopping capacity than larger vehicles. As you avoid a hazard, scan for a safe escape route and keep watch for vehicles approaching from behind.

– At intersections, check left, check front, check right, and check left again. Checking left first and last is important because it is the first lane of oncoming traffic. Continue to scan the intersection in a clockwise pattern. Take special care to watch for vehicles approaching from the front, in case that vehicle turns left in front of you — 77% of motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle occur when a vehicle makes a left turn in front of an approaching rider.

To learn more about the Cycle Rider Safety Training Program visit www.startseeingmotorcycles.org.

If you or a family member has been involved in a serious or fatal riding accident, contact the Illinois motorcycle accident attorneys at Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.