Dear Editor:

In recognition of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, I’d like to encourage Story County motorists and motorcyclists alike to commit to "sharing the road" during the month, and all year long, in a collective effort to reduce motorcycle deaths and injuries across our region.

Motorcycles are among the smallest and most vulnerable vehicles on the road, and riders are at greater risk of death and serious injury than other vehicle operators if they are involved in a crash. In fact, according to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), per vehicle mile, motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of cars, and five times more likely to be injured.

NHTSA’s latest statistics bear out this unfortunate fact. In 2011, 4,612 motorcyclists died on America’s roads, accounting for 14 percent of total highway deaths, despite motorcycle registrations representing only about 3 percent of all vehicles in the country.

Despite historical declines in automobile fatalities, motorcycle deaths have increased every year for 13 of the past 14 years, except 2009, which saw a decline.

Motorists and motorcyclists have a common responsibility to share the road together in a safe, courteous and conscientious manner. Drivers need to be on the lookout for motorcyclists at all times, signal all lane changes and turns, and constantly be checking mirrors and blind spots before proceeding. Drivers must be fully focused and alert to the road, and in control of their vehicles at all times by never driving impaired by alcohol, drugs or distraction.

Riders should obey all traffic laws, be properly licensed, use reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity, and always wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet and other proper protective equipment. Like their motorist counterparts, motorcyclists should never ride while impaired or distracted.

Together, motorists and motorcyclists can work together to keep each other and our roads safe for everyone, not only in May, but all year long. Additional information about safe motorcycle riding can be found at www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles.

Sincerely,

Sergeant Gerry Stoll

Huxley Police Department

515-597-2002