GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – With warmer days ahead, more and more motorcyclists are breaking out the bikes and taking to the roads. But four fatal accidents in just a span of three days this past weekend should serve as an important reminder that just because the ice and snow are gone, doesn’t mean there aren’t dangers to keep in mind.
Sgt. Corey Luce with the Kent County Sheriff’s Traffic Safety Unit tells FOX 17 that motorists are 16 times more likely to die in the event of a crash if they are riding a motorcycle versus a full sized vehicle. With that statistic in mind, he says there are a few things riders and drivers can do to avoid adding to the numbers.
“You have motorcyclists that haven’t been riding all season,” said Sgt. Luce. “A motorcycle is a lot more difficult to see than a larger vehicle or a truck and motorists need to be aware of that.”
So check your blind spots – more than once. And if you haven’t been out riding all season, go for a practice run in your driveway or in an empty lot somewhere. Even Sgt. Luce and his colleagues who ride for a living and undergo extensive yearly training like to hop on for a dry run before hitting the open road. But for riders and drivers alike, Luce says awareness is key.
Brad Schroeder, operations manager at Village Motorsports in Grand Rapids and Holland and an avid rider himself, couldn’t agree more.
“The most important thing to keep in mind is to assume that people do not see you,” said Schroeder. “Even more so than wearing a helmet - which we certainly encourage all riders to wear helmets and complete safety gear - the number one thing is to assume you’re not seen.”
Speaking of helmets, both Sgt. Luce and Schroeder recommend making that investment. Helmets come in two basic types: half and full. The half will cover only the top of the head, similar to a cyclist helmet. The full comes in two forms – one will cover the head and the jawline while leaving the face exposed. A closed-face helmet will mask the entire head. All helmets must be approved by the Department of Transportation, but style is more of a preference. Schroeder says the important thing is you wear one.
“You’ll never regret wearing a helmet,” he said, “but you could certainly regret not wearing one.”
“On a motorcycle,” added Sgt. Luce, “it could be a life ending or life altering injury where if you had a helmet on you could walk away from it.”
So wear a helmet, keep your eyes peeled, and ride safely.