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INDIANAPOLIS — The month of May is known for racing in the Hoosier state, but it is also dedicated to motorcycle safety awareness. With temperatures on the rise and motorcycles out in greater numbers, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) and Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) want to remind drivers and riders to stay alert and share the road.
Over the last year, the number of motorcycle collisions and fatalities increased; Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is an opportunity to educate drivers and motorcyclists on ways to exercise caution year-round.
“Motorcyclists continue to be overrepresented in traffic fatalities each year,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “They are involved in less than 2 percent of crashes but make up over 15 percent of all traffic deaths. It is essential for drivers to pay attention and watch for motorcycles at all times and for riders to take steps to maximize their visibility on the road.”
In 2020, there were 138 motorcyclists killed on Indiana roads, up from 113 during the previous year. Marion and Lake counties saw the highest increase with 24 and 10 fatalities, respectively.
The number of motorcycle collisions increased by 8 percent from 2,568 in 2019 to 2,778 in 2020, with the three most common causes being: failing to yield the right of way, running off the side of the road and following too closely.
Regardless of the circumstances, research shows that helmet use is an important factor in the survivability of a crash. Unfortunately, more than 70 percent of motorcyclists killed last year were not wearing a helmet.
“Continued education and awareness for motorcyclists and motorists is our best opportunity to reduce collisions and fatalities,” said Peter Lacy, BMV Commissioner. “The most common cause of fatality last year was failing to yield the right of way. This is a statistic we can reduce if everyone on the road is focused on their surroundings.”
BMV is working to reduce the number of fatalities and collisions involving motorcyclists through its Ride Safe Indiana (RSI) program. RSI educates motorists about the importance of watching for bikes on the road and offers motorcycle safety courses to help riders obtain their motorcycle endorsement, which is required by state law.
Since its inception, RSI has trained nearly 40,000 students in entry level, three-wheel and advanced safety and training courses through authorized providers. To find a safety course and obtain a motorcycle endorsement, visit www.RideSafeIndiana.com. Courses are available for new and advanced riders within 50 miles of all Indiana residents.
For safety tips for both drivers and riders, visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles.