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Motorcycle safety in focus for May

Alberta RCMP report there were more 200 collisions involving motorcycles in 2021
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RCMP report that head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes as a rider wearing a helmet is 37 per cent less likely to die compared to a rider without one.

WESTLOCK – With more than 200 collisions involving motorcycles in Alberta in 2021, and 20 recorded in May of last year alone, RCMP are offering a handful of safety tips for not only riders, but all motorists.

Both the Westlock and Boyle/Athabasca Traffic Units issued identical motorcycle safety releases last week, while the Alberta RCMP also provided a series of traffic safety reminders. The stats, ultimately, highlight the increased risk that motorcyclists face when they take to the streets as they’re more vulnerable without the protection of an enclosed vehicle.

“Motorcycle safety is kind of a no-brainer as you’re on a vehicle that’s very vulnerable out on the road,” said Westlock Traffic Service Cpl. Fleming Kaastrup.

According to RCMP stats, about two thirds of collisions involving motorcycles result in death or injury, while from 2014 to 2018, 2,981 motorcycles were involved in casualty collisions and 144 people were killed and 3,066 were injured. Further, 88 per cent of motorcycle collisions occur on dry roads and 73 per cent of motorcycle collisions occur in urban areas.

Over 40 per cent of motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions were travelling at an unsafe speed, while nearly half of motorcyclists involved in casualty collisions committed an improper action — running off the road or following too closely were the most common errors made by motorcyclists.

“Both regular motorists and motorcyclists have certain responsibilities out on the roads,” said Insp. Chris Romanchych, Alberta RCMP Traffic Services in a release. “Two wheels or four wheels, we all have a role to play in upholding traffic safety on our streets and highways. Together we can make this motorcycle season a safe one.”

Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes as a rider wearing a helmet is 37 per cent less likely to die compared to a rider without one. Younger motorcyclists (under the age of 25) are more likely to be involved in casualty collisions than older riders, while Kaastrup noted that many bikes are extremely overpowered and have speedometers that go up to 350 km/h per hour.

“Why do you need a bike that goes that fast? You’re not on a racetrack,” added Kaastrup, who’s a rider himself. “Unfortunately, there are younger, inexperienced riders with super powerful motorcycles that they just don’t know how to ride. I have a 1,000 CC bike that has plenty of power and even it can get you into trouble if you twist on the throttle.”

RCMP tips

Get on your gear: Both riders and passengers must wear helmets that meet minimum safety requirements and show the date of manufacture. Wearing a proper coat, pants, boots that cover the ankles, gloves, and shatter-proof eyewear, will also improve safety and reduce the risks of injuries in a collision. 

Make a list and check it twice: Before getting on a bike, always do a pre-ride check. Look at your fluids, tires, lights/signals, chains, and overall condition of the motorcycle. Refer to the Alberta Transportation Rider’s Guide for a checklist. 

Heads up: Not only can excess debris and sand from the winter months affect tire traction and motorcycle handling, but it can also cause loose gravel or rocks to be unexpectedly thrown by other vehicles. Maintain a safe following distance to avoid flying debris. 

Stay in sight: Being small, it is important for motorcycles to stay in sight of larger vehicles and avoid blind spots. 

No weaving or speeding: Speeding in and out of traffic on a motorcycle is illegal and dangerous. Safe motorcycle handling, and sharing the road responsibly, ensures control and reduces the risk of collision. 

No one likes a show-off: A motorcycle is a high-performance vehicle — just because your bike can do it, doesn’t mean your bike should do it. Slow down on unfamiliar roadways and do not feel that you have to keep up to other, more-experienced riders.

George Blais, TownandCountryToday.com