Motorcycle operators urged to put safety first

Steve Graybeal of Dover wears a hi-vis motorcycle safety jacket, helmet and gloves Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Steve Graybeal of Dover wears a hi-vis motorcycle safety jacket, helmet and gloves Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — At the end of every motorcycle sale comes the closing accessory specialist.

Diamond Motor Sports isn’t trying to profit from a few more items added to a customer’s final bill.
General Manager Stewart Crouch believes that promoting safety practices and equipment is all part of the buying experience.

“If someone has a bad experience early on, they’re not as likely to keep riding,” he said. “We want people to stay on

OHS SAFETY TIPS The Delaware Office of Highway Safety offered the following advice for improving motorcycle safety saying their are two important facets: • First, the rider must take all appropriate precautions, which include wearing appropriate safety gear and being ever-vigilant while riding. They should avoid speeding or other aggressive driving behaviors and should never ride after drinking or using any kind of drugs (this includes prescription drugs that cause impairment). They should also make every effort to be as visible as possible.   • Second, all motorists must remember to “share the road” with all other vulnerable users – including motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Further, motorists should be aware of other vehicles around them, especially motorcycles.  Give riders room to maneuver and never speed or drive aggressively. Motorists should also avoid driving after consuming alcohol or any other drugs.

OHS SAFETY TIPS
The Delaware Office of Highway Safety offered the following advice for improving motorcycle safety saying their are two important facets:
• First, the rider must take all appropriate precautions, which include wearing appropriate safety gear and being ever-vigilant while riding. They should avoid speeding or other aggressive driving behaviors and should never ride after drinking or using any kind of drugs (this includes prescription drugs that cause impairment).
They should also make every effort to be as visible as possible.
• Second, all motorists must remember to “share the road” with all other vulnerable users – including motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Further, motorists should be aware of other vehicles around them, especially motorcycles. Give riders room to maneuver and never speed or drive aggressively. Motorists should also avoid driving after consuming alcohol or any other drugs.

the road, and we want them to remain safe when they do.”

The best way to remain healthy is to take a state-provided safety course that costs $50 but “no better money is spent,” according to Mr. Crouch.

“We’re in the business (of motorcycles), but it’s not for everyone,” he said. “It’s a great way to find out if it is for you.”

While there’s an element of bikers who don’t play it safe on the roadway, the vast majority of safe ones are never noticed, Mr. Crouch said. Public perception doesn’t always jibe with reality, he said.

“You have to be very defensive, looking for signs that people don’t see you,” Mr. Crouch said. “You have to play ‘What if?’ games and imagine scenarios in front of you and what action you would take if they occur.”

Dover resident Roy “Sticks” Walker, 65, won’t ride his 2013 Harley-Davidson Full Dresser without a helmet.

“I wear a helmet, and if you don’t it’s on you,” he said. “I’ve been to accidents when I was a firefighter and saw bikes that have slid 200 to 300 feet and it’s not pretty.”

Riding with the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Delaware, Mr. Walker said his group has a so-called road captain in front and a tailgunner in back to maintain safe order.

“The rule is that you can’t pass the road captain,” the Buffalo Soldiers chapter president said.

Before taking to the road, the Buffalo Soldiers have a prayer, Mr. Walker said. Members are required to wear a helmet, long pants, and boots to take part.

“We dress for the occasion,” he said. “It’s purely for lifesaving purposes.”

About the same

At the middle of last week, the Office of Highway Safety reported that motorcycle crash fatalities were running about the same as last year at this time — 16 in 2015, 15 in 2014. This year 19 percent of traffic crash fatalities were via motorcycle, compared to 16 percent last year.

A selection of motorcycle helmets on display at Diamond Motorsports.

A selection of motorcycle helmets on display at Diamond Motorsports.

Fortunately, the worst of the motorcycle crashes are mostly done — OHS said mishaps begin to decline in September after increasing in March and April. They peak in June, July and August.

According to OHS, 53 percent of crashes occur on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, and 29 percent overall occur between 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

According to the OHS, 25 of 74 bikers in fatal motorcycle crashes in the past five years had not taken a safety course and did not follow DMV guidelines of obtaining a motorcycle endorsement.

OHS said it has created paid media advertisements targeting both motorist and motorcycle rider, along with strategic enforcement operations.

Advice for motorists included: Be alert and aware of motorcycles on the roadway, share the road, don’t speed or drive aggressively, and never drive after consuming alcohol or drugs.

When a fatal mishap occurs, there’s a 19 in 20 chance (95 percent) that the victim is a male. In the past five years 43 percent of all fatalities were men between age 35 and 54, the OHS said.

Also, 36 percent of fatal crashes involved alcohol or other drug use by the motorcyclists; 55 percent of riders were wearing a helmet when they crashed.

In the past five years, OHS said, 24 percent of crashes were found not to be the motorcyclists’ fault.

“Primarily, another driver pulled into their path or changed lanes without looking,” OHS Deputy Director Lisa Shaw said. “Other factors included impaired driving and speeding.”

Inattentive, reckless driving

Delaware State Police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said, “Some of the leading causes of crashes are inattentive driving on behalf of the motorist and reckless driving on behalf of the motorcyclist.”

The motorcyclist was in error 76 percent of the time, 34 percent of those involving speeding or aggressive driving, OHS said. Other factors included impaired riding and roadway departure crashes when the motorcyclist only was involved and no reason for the crash could be determined.

Increasing motorcycle safety is also the responsibility of car and truck drivers, OHS insists.

“Yes, it is the responsibility of every roadway user to be vigilant in their driving habits,” Ms. Shaw said.

MOTORCYCLE LAWS Delaware Code - 4185, Riding on motorcycles. (a) A person operating a motorcycle shall ride only upon the permanent and regular seat attached thereto, and such operator shall not carry any other person nor shall any other person ride on a motorcycle unless such motorcycle is designed to carry more than 1 person in which event a passenger may ride upon the permanent and regular seat if designed for 2 persons or upon another seat firmly attached to the rear or side of the operator and said motorcycle shall be equipped with passenger footrests. (b) Every person operating or riding on a motorcycle shall have in that person’s possession a safety helmet approved by the Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security (hereinafter “Secretary”) through the Office of Highway Safety and shall wear eye protection approved by the Secretary; provided, however, that every person up to 19 years of age operating or riding on a motorcycle shall wear a safety helmet and eye protection approved by the Secretary. (c) The operator of a motorcycle shall keep at least 1 hand on a handgrip of the handlebars at all times when moving. (d) A person shall ride upon a motorcycle only while sitting astride the seat, facing forward, with 1 leg on each side of the motorcycle. (e) No person shall operate a motorcycle while carrying any package, bundle or other article which prevents the person from keeping both hands on the handlebars. (f) No operator shall carry any person, nor shall any person ride, in a position that will interfere with the operation or control of the motorcycle or the view of the operator.

MOTORCYCLE LAWS
Delaware Code – 4185, Riding on motorcycles.
(a) A person operating a motorcycle shall ride only upon the permanent and regular seat attached thereto, and such operator shall not carry any other person nor shall any other person ride on a motorcycle unless such motorcycle is designed to carry more than 1 person in which event a passenger may ride upon the permanent and regular seat if designed for 2 persons or upon another seat firmly attached to the rear or side of the operator and said motorcycle shall be equipped with passenger footrests.
(b) Every person operating or riding on a motorcycle shall have in that person’s possession a safety helmet approved by the Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security (hereinafter “Secretary”) through the Office of Highway Safety and shall wear eye protection approved by the Secretary; provided, however, that every person up to 19 years of age operating or riding on a motorcycle shall wear a safety helmet and eye protection approved by the Secretary.
(c) The operator of a motorcycle shall keep at least 1 hand on a handgrip of the handlebars at all times when moving.
(d) A person shall ride upon a motorcycle only while sitting astride the seat, facing forward, with 1 leg on each side of the motorcycle.
(e) No person shall operate a motorcycle while carrying any package, bundle or other article which prevents the person from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
(f) No operator shall carry any person, nor shall any person ride, in a position that will interfere with the operation or control of the motorcycle or the view of the operator.

“We all must share the road, and personal responsibility regarding how you conduct yourself in a vehicle is a big part.”

Rural roads are especially deadly, and the site of 13 of 27 fatal crashes in the past two years, OHS said.

Nine fatals came on major roadways — Del. 1, Del. 113, U.S. 40 and U.S. 13 — and five were on surface streets within a town or city.

In Delaware, state law requires a rider to have a U.S. Department of Transportation helmet on the motorcycle at all times. Riders under 19 must wear the approved helmet.

“Many riders wear a helmet because they believe it is the right thing to do,” Ms. Shaw said. “For the most part, the riders I have been in contact with believe it should be their choice to wear one or not.”

According to OHS, other states have more stringent helmet laws, with Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Washington, D.C, all mandating that everyone under 21 must wear a helmet while on a motorcycle.

For those 21 and older, wearing a helmet is their choice.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration findings, a motorcyclist is 39 percent more likely to survive a crash if wearing a helmet. The federal agency pushes states to pass mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, Ms. Shaw said.

In addition, OHS schedules overtime enforcement of motorcycle violations during the months that have historically had higher than average crash rates, as well as on roadways in areas with higher than average crash rates.
OHS recommends novice, experienced and speed bike riders take safety courses, which are not mandatory. The courses are offered by the Division of Motor Vehicles and through some private dealerships.

More information is available online at www.dmv.de.gov.

Diamond Motorsports general manager Stewart Crouch holds a motorcycle safety jacket while standing next to a display of helmets Tuesday morning.

Diamond Motorsports general manager Stewart Crouch holds a motorcycle safety jacket while standing next to a display of helmets Tuesday morning.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.