In order to reduce motorcycle crashes and save more lives, Richland County Injury Prevention/DUI Task Force and Richland County Health Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to launch a new Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles safety campaign to help save lives on our roadways.

According to NHTSA, motorcyclists accounted for 13.6 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2018, while motorcycles make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States.

In 2018, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes, a 4.7 percent decrease from 2017 when 5,229 motorcyclists were killed and more than 89,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes. In 2019, 22 motorcyclists were killed in Montana. As of July 28, 2020, 18 motorcyclist have lost their lives this year alone in motor vehicle crashes.

The state average for the past 10 years is 23 deaths, with the lowest being 17 in 2016.

Anyone who rides a motorcycle will tell you how vehicle drivers can unintentionally become huge dangers to their safety. By gaining a basic understanding of motorcyclists’ riding behavior, motorists can drive more safely when motorcyclists are on the road with them.

With thousands of deaths each year, motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities. Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash, and 5 times more likely to be injured.

Even the smallest momentary lapse in awareness by a motorist can result in the death of an unseen motorcyclist. Data shows the most harmful event for motorcycles involved in fatal crashes were collisions with motor vehicles in transport.

Drivers should be more aware of motorcycles and follow these safety tips:

• Slow down, assess your surroundings, and don’t rush when crossing intersections, entering the roadway from a parking lot or driveway, or turning left. Always give yourself enough time to thoroughly check for motorcyclists.

• When turning left, ensure there is enough time and space for the motorcyclist to clear the roadway before you initiate the left turn.

• Don’t follow motorcyclists too closely and allow sufficient braking cushion between your vehicle and the motorcycle in front of you to give your vehicle enough room to come to a complete stop without a collision. Remember, a motorcyclist’s brake lights might not always be engaged when a motorcycle decelerates.

• Always double-check your blind spots when changing lanes or starting to entering or exiting the roadways. Adjust your rear- and side-view mirrors and use them properly.

• If someone you know drives a motorcycle, tell him or her to always wear a helmet — even if the law doesn’t require it. According to NHTSA, an estimated 749 lives could have been saved in 2017 if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.

For additional information on motorcycle safety/awareness contact Don Smies, coordinator, at 406-433-2207.

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