TOWNSEND — With warmer weather in the forecast, Chief James P. Sartell wishes to remind drivers to be aware of motorcycles on the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 4,985 motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2018 and motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than those in passenger cars, based on vehicle miles traveled. Though the number of fatalities in 2018 is an almost 5% decrease from the previous year, motorcycle riders are still overrepresented in traffic fatalities, accounting for 14% of all fatalities despite representing only 3% of registered motor vehicles on the road.
“Drivers and motorcyclists play equally important roles in keeping everyone safe on the road,” Chief Sartell said. “Please be alert and make sure you are following the rules of the road, whether you are operating a vehicle or motorcycle.”
The Townsend Police Department wishes to share the following safety tips from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to help keep motorcyclists safe:
- Allow motorcycles the full width of a lane at all times.
- Whether in a car or truck, or on a motorcycle — ALWAYS signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful. Motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
- Check all mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
- Allow more follow distance — three to four seconds — when behind a motorcycle. This gives the rider more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Never drive distracted or impaired.
Additionally, motorcyclists should:
- Wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet and other protective gear while riding.
- Use both hand and turn signals for every lane change or turn.
- Ride in the middle of the lane, where you are most visible to other drivers.
- Check your motorcycle before every ride to ensure everything is in proper working condition, including tire pressure and tread, hand and foot brakes, headlights and signal indicators.
- Secure all cargo and balance the load on the motorcycle. Adjust the suspension and tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight as well.
- If you are riding with a passenger, have them mount the motorcycle after the engine has started. Passengers should sit as far forward as possible, directly behind the driver, and should keep both feet on the foot rests at all times. Remind your passenger to keep their legs and feet away from the muffler.
Additionally, drivers should expect to see an increase in motorcycle traffic on and around Route 13 from June 12 to 20 as individuals head to and from Laconia Motorcycle Week in Laconia, N.H.