Crashes take heavy toll on state’s motorcyclists
Published 12:05 am Tuesday, July 21, 2020
AUSTIN — On average, one motorcyclist dies every day on Texas roads, and transportation officials are urging Texans to exercise caution and limit distractions while on the road, as traffic increases during the summer months.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s annual “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign, which begins this month, aims to alert drivers to the risks that motorcyclists face and suggests safety precautions motorists can take to protect motorcyclists and themselves.
The campaign reminds drivers that motorcycles are small and can be hard to see. In 2019, 412 motorcyclists were killed in Texas, and more than 1,800 were seriously injured.
“The six-month period from May through October is the deadliest for motorcycle riders and accounted for 61 percent of motorcycle fatalities in Texas last year,” TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said. “That’s why we are urging drivers to Look Twice for Motorcycles — there’s a life riding on it.”
Safety experts say crashes between motorcyclists and drivers often occur when drivers make left turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, misjudging the distance and speed of the motorcycle.
Last year, 30 percent of Texas motorcycle fatalities occurred in an intersection or were intersection-related.
TxDOT wants drivers to follow these safety tips to prevent vehicle/motorcycle crashes:
- Take extra care when making a left turn. It’s easy to misjudge the speed and proximity of an oncoming motorcycle. It’s safest to let the motorcycle pass to avoid turning in front of the rider.
- Pay special attention at intersections. Close to one-third of motorcycle fatalities happen at roadway intersections.
- Give driving your full attention. Even a momentary distraction, such as answering a phone call or changing the radio station, can have deadly consequences.
- Look twice when changing lanes. Check mirrors, check blind spots and always use turn signals.
- Give motorcyclists room when passing them. Move over to the passing lane and don’t crowd the motorcyclist’s full lane.
- Stay back. If you are behind a motorcycle, always maintain a safe following distance. When a motorcyclist downshifts instead of applying the brake to slow down, it can catch drivers off guard since there are no brake lights to signal that they are reducing their speed.
- Slow down. As always, please obey the posted speed limit.
The highest numbers of fatal motorcycle crashes last year occurred in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Lubbock and Odessa.
The “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, like wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.