In light of almost daily motorcycle crashes in the metro so far this month, the National Safety Council, Nebraska is stressing the importance of motorcycle safety for not only riders, but for everyone who operates a vehicle.
Three motorcyclists have died in less than two weeks around Omaha and Council Bluffs. Statewide, the number of deadly motorcycle crashes is up compared to this time last year for both Iowa and Nebraska.
"You have to be extremely defensive at all times," said Andrea Vandermeulen during a break from her recent basic rider course. Her defensive approach means acting as though she's invisible on the road and always anticipating any possible move by others. "You have to guess what they're gonna do at all times cause you don't get that second chance like you would in a car if you get hit."
The Basic Rider course is one of several training options the National Safety Council offers. There's a Returning Rider course for those getting back on a motorcycle for the first time in a while, and experienced riders can take a course to hone advanced riding skills. There's another course for scooters.
Motorcycle safety can't be left to riders alone though. Most motorcycle-car crashes are caused by the person who is behind the wheel of the car, according to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
"We're always told that we need to look twice for motorcycles," said Danielle Knudson, Safe Communities Director for National Safety Council, Nebraska. "That is true. We need to give them more cushion, more space on the road."
Vandermeulen tells WOWT she plans to take it slow in getting to know the road from the back of a motorcycle. "I definitely think I will take my time getting on the interstate," she said, admitting that erratic drivers, sharp turns, and animals make her nervous.
Still, she says the sense of freedom trumps all risks. "If you actually have the guts to step up and do it and realize all of the dangers that are out there, and you can overcome that fear, but still have that fear and the respect of the bike and the road, then I think you're good to go with it."