|TRENTON – New Jersey will follow the national trend of falling motorcycle crash fatalities, but the Division of Highway Traffic Safety (DHTS) is urging both riders and motorists to take extra care during the summer months to ensure the trend of tragedies continues in the right direction.
According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, U.S. motorcyclist fatalities are projected to decrease in 2013, according to a new analysis of preliminary data released last week. This will be only the second time since 1997 that such a decrease will be reported. All 50 states and the District of Columbia provided preliminary motorcyclist fatality counts to GHSA for the first nine months, New Jersey reported 44 fatalities through the end of September 2013, compared to 65 at the same point in 2012. However, motorcycle fatalities in the Garden State have been rather unstable in the last reported decade: the highest number of fatalities occurred (99) occurred in 2006 while the lowest number (57) occurred in 2003.
"While these new numbers are encouraging, the historical data shows that motorcycle safety is still an area of major concern," said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. "Given the fluctuations in the numbers, the one real conclusion you can make is that we have a lot more work to do for our motorcyclists."
May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and Poedubicky said the Division and several agencies were participating in initiatives aimed at curbing fatalities and crashes in New Jersey. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) has teamed up with the Division of Travel and Tourism to encourage car and motorcycle drivers to safely share the road through an awareness campaign that runs throughout the month. The safety message behind the campaign will be brought to life on May 22 at the Jersey Shore Premium Outlets in Tinton Falls as shoppers will be invited to experience a stationary motorcycle that simulates the look and feel of riding.
Harley-Davidson of Long Branch provided the JUMPSTART Rider Experience to demonstrate the fun and excitement of riding a motorcycle while participants received important safety information from organizations including the MVC, Division of Highway Traffic Safety and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.
"Motorcyclists must do their part by doing all that they can to have the latest and most effective safety equipment and obviously that begins with a helmet," Poedubicky said. "But motorists have a big part to play in this, too. We try to encourage everyone behind the wheel to be aware of motorcyclists at all times."
The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey is targeting both motorists and motorcyclists with two initiatives this month. The first initiative is the Share the Road Pledge campaign, which encourages drivers to do their part to save motorcyclists’ lives and help make New Jersey’s roads safer for everyone. Motorists who take the pledge will have a chance to win $50 in gas cards. Winners will be selected randomly each week. To learn more and take the pledge online, go to: www.njsmartdrivers.org/pledge2win.
The second initiative is the Ride2Win Pledge Campaign, which looks to the riding community to pledge to be a safe motorcycle rider. Riders who take the Pledge will be entered to win a $250 cash reimbursement toward the purchase of a Department of Transportation-approved helmet, other protective gear, or the cost of New Jersey-certified motorcycle course. Winners will be selected randomly each month. To learn more and take the pledge online, go to: www.njsmartriders.org/ride2win.
Poedubicky offered the following tips for riders and motorists:
- Drive defensively, assume motorists do not see you and plan escape routes.
- Make yourself visible by wearing bright colored and reflective clothing
- Do not tailgate – give yourself time and space to react.
- Avoid sudden braking or turning when driving on wet roads or gravel
- Sharing the road will save lives. Motorcyclists and motorists abide by the same traffic laws. To avoid crashes, obey speed laws, warning signs and traffic signals
- Remember that motorcycles are much smaller and maneuver faster than other vehicles, so always check your mirrors twice.
- Be alert for motorcycles – heavy traffic could hide a motorcycle
- Do not tailgate motorcycles, as they require less stopping distance.