Motorcycle safety is at the forefront of St. Joseph dialogue after a fatality crash involving a 20-year-old motorcyclist Sunday on the North Belt Highway, and the St. Joseph Safety and Health Council is using its annual MoDOT grant to focus on the issue.
Increased awareness is key since riders can be easy to miss on the road, Safety Council Executive Director Sheldon Lyon said.
“The motorcycle has a small silhouette,” he said. “Much smaller than a car’s so they’re easier to not see on the highway. So we need to make sure that we redouble our efforts and remind the public to be vigilant for these smaller vehicles that are out on the roadway.”
Every crash is even more dangerous for motorcyclists since they don’t have the advantage of many safety features that cars and other enclosed vehicles have, Lyon said.
“I have the benefit of airbags, I have the benefit of the seat belt, the crumple zones,” he said. “All of these safety devices work together to save my life. It’s much different on a motorcycle — they have none of that.”
The lack of these resources, particularly restraints, is part of why severe injuries and ejections are common in motorcycle accidents, Lyon said. That only increases the importance of utilizing the safety features they do have, he said.
“Motorcyclists can help themselves by using their headlights, (wearing) bright clothing, protective clothing such as leather clothing, wearing boots instead of flip-flops,” he said. “Those types of things help protect them when they’re on their bike.”
Another factor to consider is that Missouri no longer has a helmet law for many motorcycle riders, Lyon said.
“That’s going to affect the fatality totals in the state and is already showing those results,” he said. “We want to make sure that we educate the public to look for these motorcycles.”
Missouri’s helmet law was repealed in August 2020. Current regulations allow for people 26 or older to ride without head protection as long as they have medical insurance.