Motorcycle fatalities are on a dangerous upward trend in the area.
So far this year, there have been 42 motorcyclists killed in Missouri compared with 30 at the same last year.
Scott Jones, a safety program administrator for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said there has been an increase in traffic fatalities overall on state roads, but looking at motorcycles those numbers are even more concerning.
“Overall, we’re seeing a 9% increase in traffic crash fatalities compared to this time last year, and that’s total fatalities for the state, but motorcycles, they’re actually up 40%, so there’s a big uptick in motorcycle fatalities right now,” Jones said. “Every number, every crash statistic has a name attached to it so we really want people to pay attention to the road, don’t drive distracted, wear your seat belt, wear your safety gear, ride or drive sober and be careful out there. Our numbers are going in the wrong direction right now.”
As of last August, those 26 years and older are no longer required to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle if the operator has proper insurance. However, Jones said leaving the helmet at home is not the best decision.
“Proper safety gear is a must, whether that be some of the clothing, gloves, boots. We recommend helmets, too, even though the state repealed the helmet law last year. Wearing a helmet while on a motorcycle is one of the few things to protect yourself,” Jones said. “Then as well for any motorist or motorcycle driver is never drive when you’ve been consuming alcohol or while impaired on drugs.”
There have been 18 motorcyclists killed in Missouri who were not wearing a helmet so far this year, compared to only two at this point in 2020.
John Christensen with the St. Joseph Safety Council said what drivers of cars and trucks may see as a bump in the road can be a much more serious hazard for a motorcycle, and they don’t have the protection as a car does.
“You don’t have that enclosure, you don’t have those safety features built-in and you have less tires as well,” Christensen said. “You have two and not four, so think about when folks are mowing their grass and those grass clippings get thrown out into the roadway. That becomes a slick surface for a cyclist. Or even a rock, a golf ball-sized rock on the road — to you and me in the car we go on, but that’s a problem for a cyclist.”
It can be hard for drivers to see motorcycles, which is something Christiansen wants everyone on the road to keep in mind.
“There is a term a lot of cyclists use and that is ‘ride invisible.’ Ride as if other people can’t see you, so be defensive,” he said. “Because it’s such a smaller-profile vehicle it doesn’t take much space, oftentimes that quick glace they may overlook the cyclist and, sadly, pull into the path of the cyclist and that becomes a problem obviously for the rider.”
Visit savemolives.com for more information on driving tips as well as motorcycle safety.