New "Don't Drink and Ride" campaign unveiled, Building on a drop in motorcycle fatalities in 2006
SPRINGFIELD — Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed May Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois. To highlight motorcycle safety and urge drivers and motorcyclists to share the road, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP) and motorcycle safety advocates also today launched a new "Don't Drink and Ride" advertising and education campaign. Following a successful motorcycle safety awareness campaign in 2006, Illinois recorded a significant drop in motorcycle fatalities.
Reversing the trend of recent years, Illinois recorded a 17 percent drop in motorcycle fatalities in the state last year, from 158 in 2005 to 131 in 2006. There were 151 motorcycle fatalities in 2004. The drop last year came even as the number of motorcycle riders continued to increase, from 579,917 riders in 2005 to 588,935 in 2006.
"We are very encouraged to see a decline in the number of motorcycle fatalities on our roads and would like to see that number continue to drop," said Acting IDOT Secretary Milt Sees. "This new awareness campaign reinforces the importance of motorcycle safety. We urge every motorist on the road to be on the lookout for motorcycle riders and to 'Share the Road' with them."
This year, IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety's Cycle Rider Safety Training Program (CRSTP) marks its 31st year in operation, after training 14,724 riders in 2006. The program started in 1976, training approximately 200 riders in the first year. In 2007 IDOT expects to train several thousand riders in CRSTP courses at dozens of locations around Illinois.
CRSTP is supported through motorcycle license and registration fees. Classes are free to any Illinois resident 16 year of age or older who holds a valid drivers license or permit.
As part of Motorcycle Awareness Month, IDOT, ISP and motorcycle advocates are not only highlighting the new "Don't Drink and Ride" campaign, which is designed to encourage motorcyclists to not drink and ride, but for the twentieth straight year, motorcycle groups will take part in the "Windshield Washing Project," a public service campaign designed to raise awareness during the busy summer riding season. During weekends in May, at least 32 clubs will wash the windshields of cars and trucks at rest areas and distribute a "Share the Road" brochure.
In addition, many communities around the state have agreed to erect a 30-foot banner across the street at high traffic volume locations that remind motorists to "Start Seeing Motorcycles." "We live to ride, but the bottom line is and always will be safety," said Toney Buzick, Assistant Director of the Illinois Gold Wing Road Rider's Association. "That's why we partner with IDOT's Division of Traffic Safety to get that safety message out, both in training for motorcyclists and education for the people we share the road with, urging them to keep their eyes out for motorcyclists during this summer season. " "The Illinois State Police believe that proper training is an important tool for all riders, however, it is just as important for motorcyclists to be aware of their speed and the speed of other drivers around them," said ISP Director Larry Trent. "This summer State Troopers will be working hard to make sure all drivers are moving at the proper speed, whether it's on a motorcycle or in a car. We all have the 'Share the Road' and obey the rules."
Director Trent also noted that for the second year, Troopers from ISP's new Motorcycle Enforcement Bureau will be deployed on Interstates throughout the state with the mission of speed limit enforcement, reducing fatalities and making car drivers more aware of motorcyclists.
ISP also offers the following safety tips for new riders all the way up to seasoned veterans:
- Although Illinois does not mandate wearing a motorcycle helmet, use of approved helmets, protective body wear, boots and gloves is strongly recommended.
- Improve your visibility by wearing brightly colored clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night.
- Be alert for animals alongside and on the roadway, not only in rural areas, but in urban areas as well.
- Don’t ride beyond 80% of your riding capabilities. To do so leaves no margin for the unexpected.
- When riding with another motorcycle, stagger your position. This allows both riders to take evasive action safely should the need occur.
- Don’t become fixed on what’s just beyond your front tire. Be aware of what’s ahead. Safe riders remain aware of developing situations 12-16 seconds ahead. This includes other vehicles, potholes, roadway obstructions, and other potential hazards. This allows time to plan and react in a controlled manner.
- Oil, grease and other fluids from cars and trucks generally collects in the middle of the lane. Avoid these potentially slick areas by riding in the normal wheel tracks of these vehicles.
- In the event emergency braking is required, remember motorcycles have far better stopping capabilities than cars and trucks. As you’re avoiding the hazard, scan for a safe escape route while watching for vehicles approaching from behind.
- Before proceeding through an intersection, check left, check front, check right, and check left again. Checking left first is important because this is the first lane you cross. Continue to scan in intersection in a clockwise pattern, checking traffic approaching in front, in case that vehicle turns left in front of you. 77% of motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle happen in this manner.
- Don’t lend your motorcycle to someone without knowing their skill level and making sure they have the proper license.
- Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol slows reactions and impairs function.
To sign up for and find out more about IDOT’s Cycle Rider Safety Training Program go to www.dot.state.il.us.