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Deadly motorcycle crashes rising across Missouri

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 12:08 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - May is ‘Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.’ And police say fatalities involving motorcyclists in Missouri are rising.

The Missouri Highway Patrol reports 18 fatalities in the last four months. That is compared to 11 fatalities in all of 2020.

Investigators believe, in part, the increase is because of more traffic on the roads now, compared to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Inattentive drivers also play a part.

They believe Missouri’s motorcycle helmet law may play a role. The law began at the end of August. It allows those 26 and older, with insurance to cover a crash, to ride without a helmet. The patrol says they are enforcing the law, checking for insurance coverage with those not wearing helmets, whenever they pull over a motorcyclist for a traffic violation.

In the city of Springfield, there have been eight motorcycle fatalities since the law went into effect, with three of them not wearing helmets. Of the fatalities so far this year across the state, a third did not wear a helmet.

“Because of the law being passed, I think we are all seeing more motorcyclists without helmets,” said Sergeant Michael McClure, Missouri State Highway Patrol. “That’s just a logical assumption by just what we observe. So that would account for, so far, the six fatalities that had no helmet on.”

Law enforcement encourages drivers to stay off phones and be attentive to the road. Officers also encourage motorcyclists to do everything they can to be visible, such as riding with their lights on and wearing bright, reflective clothing.

In 2020, the Springfield Police Department responded to 145 accidents involving motorcycles. To keep roadways safe, motorists are encouraged to follow these helpful tips from the NHTSA.

Motorcycle riders:

Wear a helmet to reduce brain injury.

Before you ride: check headlights and signal indicators, tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, fluid levels and leaks.

Wear protective clothing, such as leather or denim, for extra protection during a crash and to help prevent dehydration. Brightly colored clothing with a reflective material will make you more visible. Gloves allow for a better grip and will provide additional protection to your hands in an event of a crash.

Secure cargo and balance the load on the cycle. If needed, adjust suspension and tire pressure.

Remind passengers to keep their legs and feet away from muffler.

Know and obey local traffic laws. Ride alcohol and drug free.

Always use turn signals.

Vehicle drivers:

Share the road and watch closely for motorcyclists. Double- check intersections before turning or pulling out. Remember looking twice may save a life!

Check blind spots before changing or merging lanes.

Always use turn signals and watch out when turning left.

Motorcyclists don’t always use their brakes, so watch out!

Know and obey local traffic laws. Drive alcohol- and drug-free.

Treat motorcyclists with the same respect that you would treat other drivers.

Springfield Police Department’s Traffic section is offering a free “Share the Road” civilian motorcycle safety course. Upcoming dates are May 23 and Sept. 12. For more information and to register for the course, please visit https://www.springfieldmo.gov/5289/Share-The-Road-Motorcycle-Course.

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