CAPITOL HILL – The rain didn’t stop the Utah Department of Public Safety, Utah Highway Patrol, and area riders from making a trek to Capitol Hill. They showed up in force to deliver an important message – “If you look twice, you can save a life.”
Motorcycle season is underway in Utah, a time for drivers and riders to look out for each other a little bit more.
“It kinda takes a little bit to train our brains to understand that motorcycles are out there. They're harder to see. They're smaller,” said Marques Varela, Program Manager Motorcycle Safety, Utah DPS.
Because of their size, motorcycles may seem farther away than they really are.
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety Highway Office, in 2016, 41 riders lost their lives, a 14 percent increase from 2015. It represents the second highest total on record.
“We're looking to reverse that trend. Over half of them, 24 involved another vehicle,” said Varela.
Deaths were highest among males in their early 20's and 40’s. About half of the fatalities were not wearing helmets. Nearly 1/3 (31 percent) of the drivers who hit motorcycles were turning left.
So far this year, there have been 5 motorcycle deaths, one involved another vehicle.
DPS is rolling out billboards to get people’s attention.
“It actually has a giant cut out of a motorcycle on the side of it so it requires a driver to actually look to the side to recognize the motorcycle,” said Varela.
Roger Blomquist says riders must take steps too. He’s a member of A.B.A.T.E. (American Bikers Aiming Towards Education) of Utah.
“Motorcyclists need to take advantage of the training courses that are out there,” said Varela.
Whether you’re an experienced or new motorcyclist, skills courses can help a lot.
“I thought I knew everything as a rider, but then I took these courses and it just made me a much better rider,” said Blomquist.
It’s also important to wear protective gear, especially a helmet.
“For the motorcyclist pay attention, look ahead, scan your riding area and watch your path of travel, anticipate the worst so you get the best outcome,” said Blomquist.
Check Utah more information for skills courses:
HAFB Base offers free motorcycle safety classes, call 801-777-3333