Friday, October 9 , 2015, 9:21 pm | Fair 71º

Motorcycle Safety is a Two-Way Street

To mark Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the CHP stresses the importance of defensive driving by all motorists.

By Daniel Barba |

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in California. In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of drivers and motorcyclists sharing the road, the California Highway Patrol will release the video Thrill or Buzz Kill? at its upcoming, invitation-only Motorcycle Safety Summit.

“Sharing the road with many types of vehicles is necessary for safe highways,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “While drivers need to watch out for bikers, motorcyclists need to be defensive riders and watch their surroundings as well."

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, reminded motorists that safety is a two-way street off the highway, too.

“Whether it be on the highway or on the streets, drivers need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when encountering motorcycles. Oftentimes, motorcycles are harder to see than cars and are more vulnerable when on the road. Motorcycle riders always need more time and room to avoid hazards, and drivers should make every effort to give riders as much room on the road as possible,” he said.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, more Californians are sharing the roadways.  “Among the more than 23 million licensed drivers in the state, there are roughly 1.1 million licensed riders,” said Mimi Khan, the DMV’s deputy director of licensing operations.

The CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System statistics show that the number of motorcyclists killed in collisions statewide has increased more than 140 percent in the past 10 years.

"With motorcycle rider deaths increasing at an alarming rate, everyone needs to take note," said Christopher Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. "OTS, the CHP and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are convening the first ever Motorcycle Safety Summit later this month in California with representatives from motorcycle riders, law enforcement, industry and public agencies to address this problem and reduce these tragic deaths."

In addition to safety equipment, education is crucial for new motorcyclists and riders who have been off the road for a length of time. “Even as a veteran rider, I know it’s important to take a refresher course and sharpen your skills, especially if you haven’t ridden in a while,” CHP Assistant Commissioner Ramona Prieto said.

Last year, nearly 63,000 students attended training courses at one of the 114 California Motorcyclist Safety Program training sites.  CMSP is California’s official motorcycle safety and training program administered by the CHP. To enroll in a CMSP course, click here or call 877.RIDE.411.

Daniel Barba is a California Highway Patrol public affairs officer.

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