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Safety on Two Wheels

Motorcycle collisions have led to two deaths in Howard County recently -- what can the police, and drivers, do to keep safe?

With top speeds approaching 200 mph, high-performance motorcycles zooming past cars have become a regular sight on highways, and to police and rescue crews.

May was Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, but the debate of how to keep riders -- and the vehicles they share the roads with – safe, is ongoing. Particularly, according to Chief William McMahon, when it comes to high-performance motorcycles 

“That’s something we struggle with,” McMahon told a group of residents at the Citizens Advisory Council meeting last week.

“We don’t chase them, frankly, because we can’t catch them,” he said. 

Tell us in comments: What do you think should be done to increase motorcycle safety?

On May 21, 45-year-old when his motorcycle went off the road in Marriottsville and on May 30, 25-year-old when his motorcycle collided with the car in front of him in Ellicott City

Just last Sunday, another motorcycle driver was taken to University of Maryland Shock Trauma after

When thinking about motorcycle safety, McMahon said that one of his go-to sources is Bob Henig, owner of Bob’s BMWs in Jessup. Hennig’s blog mentions safety often, and has a post dedicated to Motorcycle Safety Month. 

“ATGATT – All the gear all the time!” the post reads. “If you’re going to ride, you must be prepared for anything and that includes the possibility of accidents. All it takes is one time not wearing quality gear to learn the importance of ATGATT … if you’re that lucky.”

There are also links to safety courses in Howard County and around the state.

For tips on how to be safe on a motorcycle, and how to safely share the road with them, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, or read these 10 tips from the Maryland MVA. They are geared toward car and truck drivers, but are a good reminder to motorcyclists of the mistakes they sometimes make, including:

  • Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light.  Allow more following distance, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
  • Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders sometimes forget to turn them off. 
  • Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind.  Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
  • Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle's better characteristics, but don't expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.

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MR6453 June 26, 2012 at 09:39 PM
My suggestion would be to require a person to visit the morgue, or shock trauma, before they get a license, and have them see, in-person, what the consequences to reckless, inattentive vehicle operation can be. Almost all of these "accidents" can be avoided with the use of common sense and caution.
Bill Kammer June 26, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Whatever happened to the old "Red Highway" Videos we watched in high school or drivers education? Maybe they need to be updated or pulled out of the basement and be required to be watched at the MVA sites
MR6453 June 27, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Not to discount your comment, but a movie isn't good enough. Especially with the younger drivers who regularly see the horror movies these days that probably make the Red Highway videos look like Saturday morning cartoons. They need to see it and smell it in person. They need to go into the waiting rooms and observe the grieving families and realize how many lives get changed in a split second. Sometimes people just need to be scared sick.
Brandie Jefferson June 27, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Just curious, do either of you ride motorcycles?
Yellowdog June 27, 2012 at 02:35 AM
While I understand the picture in this article maybe all you had. It should be noted the driver was wearing full gear and did all he could to avoid the deer. The sad part was how many people just kept driving around the driver and not stopping to help.
Brandie Jefferson June 27, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Thanks for your comment. I chose this picture intentionally because I didn't name the driver in this incident and I didn't want to imply that any of the collisions/accidents in particular were the cause of an unsafe driver. I hope it didn't come across that way. Same goes, of course, for the drivers in the items I linked to in the body of the story.
bill bissenas June 27, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Things happen. Every natural risk of Man does not need to be regulated.
Wendy Woods June 27, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Road safety is the responsibility of individual drivers. Everyone who heads out on the roads needs to consider it his/her personal responsibility to arrive safely - and to make sure others do as well. As a car driver, it is my job to be aware of the vehicles (no matter how many wheels, with or without motors) around me and do what I can to be safe for everyone. Those other drivers should be doing the same. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles and pedestrians all share the same roads - we all need to abide by the same rules. What can the police do? Just what they are supposed to do - enforce all of the traffic laws on all roads. Speed limits are treated as mere suggestions because people know they are allowed 11 miles over the speed limit before being ticketed, and they won't be caught if the flow of the traffic is all going 80 in a 55 zone! We don't need more laws, we just need to use the ones we have. What can the public do? Another simple answer: abide by the laws and be considerate. Speeding, zigging and zagging in and out of lanes, running lights and stop signs are all borne out of a selfish attitude that "where I am going is more important". If ALL people who use the road were more careful, everyone would be more safe.

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