Recent deadly crashes prompt motorcycle safety reminders

Published: Aug. 16, 2016 at 8:20 AM CDT
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With three deadly motorcycle crashes in three weeks, experts are reminding the public about safety while on the road.

Jeff Ferguson, director of training with Nebraska Motorcycle Safety Training in Sarpy County says everyone needs to take part when it comes to safety. Anywhere on or near a roadway needs to be aware of one another.

Ferguson said the biggest issue he's seen in his many years of riding a motorcycle is distracted driving. "I've been a motorcyclist for a long time and it really is an epidemic. I commute 26 miles one way to work and the amount of people I see texting and driving or doing whatever and driving and not focused on driving is alarming. It really is very alarming."

At any one point, the NHTSA estimates that there are 660,000 people distracted while driving. It's why Ferguson not only teaches the basics of riding a motorcycle, but also the acronym SEE: Searching, Evaluating and Executing. He tells riders to search for any sort of hazard, evaluate the situation and execute.

"You're always searching, you're always looking around seeing what's going on. You should know if that car you're about to pass, what's that driver doing? Is he looking in his rear view mirror? Is she going to cut you off? You can predict a lot of things in traffic if you're really paying attention."

Riders can also protect themselves by wearing the right gear. That includes ankle boots, protected pants, an armored jacket, gloves and a helmet. In Nebraska, it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Nineteen other states also have these laws. The NHTSA estimates that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing deadly injuries. You're also three times more likely to survive a crash if you're wearing a helmet.

Nebraska has tried to repeal the law in the past, but has never made it through the Legislature. According to the NHTSA, states that have weakened their helmet laws have seen an increase in the number of deadly crashes.

But drivers can also help decrease the number of deadly crashes by following a simple motto: look twice, save a life.

When pulling out into an intersection or in front of traffic, riders ask that drivers look once and then a second time to make sure no one is actually coming. Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see. It's also difficult to judge just how fast they're going. Looking twice can prevent someone from pulling out in front of a rider they didn't initially see.

If you're interested in a motorcycle safety course, click on the link provided. Ferguson says those classes are beneficial for the beginner all the way up to the experienced rider. "We've got people coming through who've been riding for 10-20 years and they don't know the basic techniques. You might not swerve every day or need to stop fast every day in traffic, but if you come through one of these classes you'll get refreshed on how to do that."