This Saturday, streets will be filled with motorcycles to remind drivers that spring is here, and bikers are back on the roadways.
The motorcyclists will be coming together for the annual Region 3 ABATE of Indiana Safety & Awareness Ride, which aims to saturate the roadways with bikers as riding season kicks off to let drivers know they’re out. The event, said Lynn Anderson, co-director of Region 3 ABATE of Indiana, is important as the start of riding season is the most dangerous as bikers are out for the first time since last season, and drivers are used to having the roads to themselves.
“The main objective of the ride is it’s springtime. We’re out there. We’re trying to get as many riders as we can so we can be out there in force and show drivers we’re back on the road and to pay attention. Keep your eyes open. Get off the phone, all that stuff. Look twice, save a life,” Anderson said.
May is recognized as National Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month, and Region 3’s ride coincides with that. The ride will take place Saturday, May 8, and cover all six counties in ABATE Region 3 for a 106-mile ride.
Though bikers are encouraged to visit all six counties, they can join at any time from the departure locations, which are at the courthouse of each county. This year’s departure schedule is as follows: Tipton County, 10:30 a.m.; Howard County, 11:30 a.m.; Miami County, 12:30 p.m.; lunch; Wabash County, 2 p.m.; Huntington County, 3 p.m.; and Grant County, 4 p.m. Bikers are encouraged to show up half an hour early, as the times listed are when kickstands go up.
Participants can choose their own routes from courthouse to courthouse or use route sheets that will be provided. Proclamations will be given at each courthouse by the mayors or other authority figures.
As riding season gets underway, Anderson reminded motorcyclists to drive defensively.
“Always be a defensive driver because you don’t know what the other person is doing, and they’re in a cage that’s protecting them. You’re not, so you have to be mindful of your own safety by being a defensive driver,” she said. “In ABATE, we preach the 12-second rule. So you should always know what is 12 seconds around you, so 12 seconds ahead of you. Be prepared for what’s going to happen, so you can scan and identify and predict anything that might be in your path that you may have to deal with.”
According to a February 2019 study by the Federal Highway Administration, the number of motorcyclist crash-related fatalities nearly doubled from 2,304 fatalities in 1994 to 4,295 in 2014.
The study sought to determine the causes of crashes involving motorcyclists. Of the 351 crashes studied, 23.8 percent were single-vehicle crashes, while 76.2 percent were multiple-vehicle crashes. Eleven percent of the crashes in the study resulted in fatalities, and 94.6 percent of the crashes involved motorcyclists without passengers.
Left-turn scenarios were the most common crash configuration, followed by failing to avoid a crash and running off of the roadway. Most of the crashes occurred during daylight, and the majority of crashes occurred where the speed limit was less than 45 miles per hour.
In 43 percent of cases, “attention failure/distraction/stress” was listed as a factor that contributed to the crash.
Anderson stressed that motorcyclists need to stay alert, and vehicle drivers must not drive while distracted.
“Even though the phone thing is a big deal right now, there’s still people putting on makeup when they’re driving or eating a cheeseburger. You drip ketchup on your shirt and look away for a couple of seconds to wipe it off, that’s distracted driving,” she said. “A lot of people still don’t understand the definition of distracted driving. Even if it’s just changing the radio station, you’ve looked away, and it only takes a couple of seconds for something like that to happen.”
While distracted driving has been shown to lead to crashes involving motorcyclists, Anderson said another factor that leads to single-motorcycle accidents is motorcyclists not knowing their limitations.
“New drivers, and I would also say men, they tend to think that they are Superman and that they can do better than they really can do. ‘I can take this curve at 60 miles per hours’ when in reality you can’t,” she said.
The ABATE director encouraged all motorcyclists, even those who already have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license, to take a motorcycle rider course, such as one ABATE offers. ABATE’s course aims to teach and reinforce basic knowledge and skills needed for safe driving, including mental and physical skills.
These skills include understanding the risks associated with motorcycling, risk mitigation strategies, improving cornering and braking skills, and practicing swerving skills needed in emergencies.
Anderson said the course potentially can be life-saving.
“It helps to ingrain some of those motorcycle skills that you might have forgotten or that you’ve overlooked with time that could save your life,” she said.
More information on the course, including how to register, can be found at abateonline.org.