AAA urges motorcyclists to take extra precautions


COLUMBUS — Spring is typically a time when the number of motorcyclists grows on Ohio’s roads. This year is no exception. As many Ohioans stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, motorcyclists are taking advantage of reduced traffic to enjoy recreational rides while maintaining social distances. AAA offers important safety advice to help keep motorcyclists safe and protected on these rides.

“With more than 400,000 motorcycles in Ohio, it’s important for everyone to do their part to safely share the road, especially during the warmer months, when motorcyclists are more likely to be out for a drive,” said Ed Conley, director of Insurance Sales and Financial Services for AAA Ohio Auto Club.

Motorcycle Crash Data:

During the past five years, nearly 19,000 motorcycle crashes occurred on Ohio’s roads, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. These crashes killed more than 800 motorcyclists and injured nearly 14,000. Historically, the number of motorcycle crashes start to increase during the spring and peak in the summer.

“It’s riding season now,” said Worthington-based motorcycle enthusiast and freelance writer Dan Armitage. “Motorcyclists tend to value their independent spirit, and are fortunate they can continue to participate in their favorite activity while maintaining social distancing. It’s also fun right now, because there aren’t a lot of motor vehicles on the road.”

Protecting Motorcyclists:

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, as it’s the time of year when many get their bikes out for the first time since the fall. As motorcyclists prepare their equipment and brush up on their riding skills, they should also ensure their bike is properly insured.

“Motorcycle policies typically have a layup period where the company reduces coverage and premium costs during the months you aren’t riding your bike,” said Conley. “It’s important to make sure that layup period is over before firing your bike, so you have the right coverage. If you have any questions, check with your insurance agent first.”

In addition, AAA encourages motorcyclists to:

Gear up: Helmets greatly reduce the risk of injury or death in a crash. During the past five years an average of 70% of the motorcyclists killed in crashes on Ohio’s roads were not wearing a helmet, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Disinfect after filling up: Work to maintain social distancing when filling up at the gas station. Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down the gas pump, screen and touchpad. Use a plastic bag when touching the pump. After filling up, use wipes and hand sanitizer to wipe down your hands and credit card.

Be visible: Remember, drivers aren’t used to seeing motorcycles on the road at this point of the season. Position yourself in the lane where drivers can see you. Keep your headlight on, wear bright colors and use reflective tape, even in the daytime.

Be predictable: Use turn signals and avoid lane splitting, which is illegal in Ohio. Armitage recommends driving like you’re invisible. “I assume that person is going to pull out in front of me, or run that red or yellow light, or change lanes without any regard to me,” he says.

Obey posted speed limits: With lighter traffic on the roads right now it might be tempting to open the throttle. Be sure to obey all posted speed limits, as they are intended to save lives.

Never ride impaired: In Ohio, 41 percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol last year, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Protect your assets: Motorcycle insurance is required in Ohio. If you’ve done any work to your bike over the winter, or added any accessories, make sure you have enough insurance coverage for those items, as well as your helmet and leather, in case they’re damaged or stolen.

As more Ohioans start driving in the coming months, they also need to make sure they’re keeping an eye out for motorcyclists. Be aware that they are back on the roads, so check mirrors and blind spots carefully before entering or leaving lanes.

Photo courtesy AAA is urging motorcyclists to be extra cautious this spring. courtesy AAA is urging motorcyclists to be extra cautious this spring.

By Kimberly Schwind

Special to the Inquirer

Kimberly Schwind is senior manager of public affairs at AAA Ohio Auto Club

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