Advocates push “Start Seeing Motorcycles” Campaign; IDOT Increases Slots in Rider Safety Training Program In order to put a spotlight on motorcycle safety as the 2008 riding season gets underway, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has proclaimed May Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP) and motorcycle safety advocates are urging the public to “Start Seeing Motorcycles” and to share the road with motorcycle riders. In addition, IDOT is increasing the number of slots available in its motorcycle safety training program by more than 1,000, and for the first time it will be offering an intermediate course for students who already know how to ride.
IDOT and ISP will also again highlight the “Don’t Drink and Ride” campaign which is designed to encourage motorcyclists to not drink and ride. A “Don’t Drink and Ride” media campaign will include 18,000 radio spots that will run between May 1st and September 1st.
“This is the time of year when motorcycle riders are getting back on the roads in large numbers,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “We urge every motorist on the road to be on the lookout for motorcycle riders and to ‘Share the Road’ with them. IDOT also encourages intermediate and experienced motorcycle riders to take advantage of the safety courses that are offered throughout the state. These courses provide an excellent opportunity to brush up on cycle safety.”
“We live to ride, but the bottom line is and always will be safety,” said Toney Buzick, Assistant Director of the Illinois Gold Wing Road Rider’s Association. “That’s why we partner with IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety to get that safety message out, both in training for motorcyclists and education for the people we share the road with, urging them to keep their eyes out for motorcyclists during this summer season.” While the overall number of traffic fatalities in Illinois was down slightly from the previous year in 2007, motorcycle fatalities rose by more than 18 percent from 132 in 2006 to 157 in 2007.
"Overall, we’re moving in the right direction with our traffic safety efforts; however, the increase in motorcycle fatalities is a concern," said Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent. "In an effort to turn this trend around, our highly-skilled motorcycle enforcement officers will begin an educational campaign to inform drivers and motorcyclists alike of the potential hazards associated with sharing the road and highlight fundamental safety tips."
Director Trent also noted that for the third year, Troopers from the ISP’s Motorcycle Enforcement Bureau will be deployed on Interstates throughout the state with the mission of checking for proper license endorsements, speed limit enforcement, reducing fatalities and making other vehicle drivers more aware of motorcyclists. Officers will also be enforcing fatal five violations which include speeding, safety belts, improper lane usage, following too closely, and driving under the influence.
In 2008, IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety will be offering a total of 15,961 slots in the its Cycle Rider Safety Training Program (CRSTP), which is marking its 32nd year in operation. These courses are held at 60 locations throughout Illinois. This is up from 14,917 slots in 2007. Of the total, 14,841 positions will be for beginning riders, 705 will be for experienced riders.
For the first time, IDOT is offering a pilot course for intermediate students in Southern Illinois through SIU, with 415 slots available. The intermediate course is designed for people who already know how to ride but may not have a license.
The intermediate course is designed for people who already know how to ride but may not have a license or just want to brush up on their riding skills. The intermediate course only takes 8.5 hours versus 20 hours for the beginner course. CRSTP is supported through motorcycle license and registration fees. Classes are free to any Illinois resident 16 years of age or older who holds a valid drivers license or permit. For additional information on course locations and schedules, go to www.dot.state.il.us/cycle2.html. During the last two years, IDOT has purchased 200 large 30 foot banners in bright yellow reading “Start Seeing Motorcycles” which are being distributed to law enforcement agencies and motorcycle clubs for placement in strategic areas throughout the state to raise motorist awareness of the presence of motorcycles.
In addition, IDOT is again this year sponsoring the annual “Windshield Washing Project” in which 29 motorcycle clubs are washing windshields of cars and trucks at IDOT interstate rest areas across the state on weekends during the month of May. Participating club members are distributing a “Share the Road” brochure to motorists and reminding them to watch out for motorcycles that have not been in the driving mix over the winter months. IDOT has also purchased radio ads during “Motorcycle Awareness Month” to get the word out about motorcycle safety. ISP also offers the following safety tips for new riders all the way up to seasoned veterans:
- Although Illinois does not mandate wearing a motorcycle helmet, use of approved helmets, protective body wear, boots and gloves is strongly recommended.
- Improve your visibility by wearing brightly colored clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night.
- Be alert for animals alongside and on the roadway, not only in rural areas, but in urban areas as well.
- Don’t ride beyond 80% of your riding capabilities. To do so leaves no margin for the unexpected.
- When riding with another motorcycle, stagger your position. This allows both riders to take evasive action safely should the need occur.
- Don’t become fixed on what’s just beyond your front tire. Be aware of what’s ahead. Safe riders remain aware of developing situations 12-16 seconds ahead. This includes other vehicles, potholes, roadway obstructions, and other potential hazards. This allows time to plan and react in a controlled manner.
- Oil, grease and other fluids from cars and trucks generally collects in the middle of the lane. Avoid these potentially slick areas by riding in the normal wheel tracks of these vehicles.
- In the event emergency braking is required, remember motorcycles have far better stopping capabilities than cars and trucks. As you’re avoiding the hazard, scan for a safe escape route while watching for vehicles approaching from behind.
- Before proceeding through an intersection, check left, check front, check right, and check left again. Checking left first is important because this is the first lane you cross. Continue to scan in the intersection in a clockwise pattern, checking traffic approaching in front, in case that vehicle turns left in front of you. 77% of motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle happen in this manner.
- Don’t lend your motorcycle to someone without knowing their skill level and making sure they have the proper license.
- Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol slows reactions and impairs function.