Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month reminds drivers: Look twice, save a life

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NORTH JACKSON — As the temperatures rise, the roar of motorcycles can be heard even more on the roadways of West Tennessee. As we kick off the month of May and National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, troopers share a few tips on staying safe while sharing the road with those on two wheels. Troopers said drivers and motorcyclists alike can do their part to make sharing the road safer. For drivers, don’t let yourself get distracted, and for motorcyclists, obey the rules of the road. “Motorcyclists — speed kills,” said Lt. Brad Wilbanks with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. “I see these young men and women riding on these motorcycles running 90 and 100 miles an hour. That’s senseless. I mean, that’s just senseless. Slow down and enjoy the ride — and stay alive.” Wilbanks said fatality numbers are down for motor vehicles in Tennessee but not for motorcycles. “One area that we’re not being successful in reducing the number of fatalities is motorcycles — they’re actually rising,” Wilbanks said. “I think over the last decade they’ve rose 25 percent.” “People just don’t see motorcycles,” said Mike Woods, an instructor at the Harley Riding Academy. “If they would look twice, they could save a life.” Under Tennessee state law, one thing to remember before you get on the bike is that your helmet is Department of Transportation certified. “The fine for wearing a non-DOT approved helmet is about three times the cost of not wearing a helmet at all,” Woods said. Woods said the best advice he can give to riders is to take a safety course. “It teaches the fundamentals of becoming a safe and responsible motorcyclist,” Woods said. “Even if you’ve been riding for many, many years, I think it’s one of the best decisions you can make.” According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there were 2,710 crashes in Tennessee involving a motorcycle in 2014 resulting in 121 deaths.

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