TxDOT Urges Motorists To Be on the Lookout for Motorcyclists
Houston County Courier - July 2008
With gas prices topping $4 per gallon, more and more Texans are trading their gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks for more fuel-efficient motorcycles to save at the pump.
More motorcycles on the road means more motorcyclists may crash and ultimately die on Texas roadways.
That's why the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is launching a motorcycle safety campaign encouraging drivers to take extra caution watching for motorcyclists on roadways.
Because they have less physical protection than passenger vehicle occupants, riders are particularly vulnerable in a crash.
Federal officials report that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 35 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger vehicle occupants.
"Registered motorcycles are at an all-time high in Texas," said Carlos Lopez, TxDOT‚s traffic operations director.
"We're reminding drivers to be on the lookout for the nearly 400,000 motorcyclists on Texas roadways, especially at intersections where many crashes happen."
Grapeland resident Jerry Rhone said he has traveled 50,000 miles on his motorcycle since he purchased it in March 2006.
Rhone recently went on a five-state trip of more than 3,500 miles and said although the fuel savings were substantial, there were dangers from other vehicles. Rhone said debris flying from vehicles that either landed on the road or struck the motorcycle could result in an accident.
"While riding I have been struck by trash being thrown from cars and things flying out of pickups that nearly caused me to crash," Rhone said.
Beginning July 14, television and radio commercials and billboards along interstate highways will urge drivers to look twice for motorcyclists.
The public education initiative will run for two weeks, coincided with National Ride to Work Day on July 16.
Co-sponsoring the effort is the Texas Motorcycle Roadriders Association, which educates riders and promotes motorcycle safety in Texas.
TxDOT and the Texas Motorcycle Roadriders Association have these safety tips for sharing the road with motorcyclists:
· Look twice for motorcyclists˜at intersections, entering highways and whenever turning or changing lanes. The small size of motorcycles often makes them hard to see, and motorcyclists can get lost in blind spots.
· Always maintain a safe following distance. Motorcycles can stop more quickly than passenger vehicles.
· When passing a motorcyclist, move to the other lane and allow a full lane for the motorcycle. After doing so, avoid re-entering the lane too quickly.
In 2006, 346 motorcyclists were killed on Texas roads, which is nearly ten percent of all fatalities.