A two way street: safety for both motorcyclists and motorists

As the weather gets warmer, more motorcycles are expected to be out on the roads. Drivers need to look out for motorcyclists, and motorcyclists need to look out for drivers.

Posted: May 16, 2019 6:36 PM
Updated: May 16, 2019 6:40 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - As the weather gets warmer, more motorcycles are expected to be out on the roads. Drivers need to look out for motorcyclists, and motorcyclists need to look out for drivers. There are specifics everyone can do to make sure we see the statistic numbers go down.

According to numbers from the Indiana Traffic Safety Facts publication developed by Indiana University Public Policy Institute found that nearly 3,400 motor cyclists were involved in some level of accident in 2017. Some walked away uninjured, the majority had some sort of injury, and there were nearly 150 deaths.

While the overall number of accidents has decreased in the past five years, 2017 saw the highest number of motorcycle fatalities. The study also found that June and July see the highest amount of motorcycle accidents and fatalities. There are things both motorcyclists and drivers can do to keep the roads safe.

"To vehicle operators, cars, trucks things like that, pay attention," said Tippecanoe County Sheriff Bob Goldsmith. "For the people riding the motorcycles, we still see a lot of people who ride without a helmet."

Ben Brinn and his son Justin own and manage Spyke's KTM in Lafayette.

"I've been riding since I was 13 years old, so about 40 years now," said Ben.

"I've been riding motorcycles since I was 4 years old," said Justin. "I couldn't wait to be able to ride on the road when I turned 16."

Governor Eric Holcomb declared the month of May to be Motorcycle Safety and Awareness month. The Brinn's moto: motorcyclists should take safety into their own hands.

"Just like football players, they go out on the field with all the gear and you should do the same thing with a motorcycle," said Ben. The encourage all riders to equip themselves with all the necessities.

"Helmets, jackets, gloves, boots over the ankle," he said. "A lot of guys don't want to wear a helmet, but a baseball cap turned backwards doesn't do much to protect the head."

Justin took a three day long safety class with ABATE of Indiana. 

"I learned everything from where you should have your motorcycle positioned in the road to riding technique," said Justin.

Sheriff Goldsmith wants drivers to make sure they double check before they turn.

"Last night I was pulling onto State Road 26 I looked, I didn't see anything, looked again and there was a motorcycle that didn't have a headlight on," he said.

Motorcyclists also have a much smaller foe to be aware of. The average weight of a midsized car is 3,500 pounds, but a blade of grass weighs less than one tenth of a gram. Sheriff Goldsmith emphasized that people mowing their lawns need to be aware about not blowing grass clippings and other debris into the road.

"Grass clippings can be slick so if you are breaking or turning or doing anything on the grass with a motorcycle, it is different than the road," said Justin.

The Brinns also recommend regular bike maintenance to ensure safety. At the end of the day, safety on the road is a two way street.

"Everyone just needs to ride safe and look out for each other," said Justin.

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