Editor’s note: Following is a column submitted by the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Motorcycle fatalities increased 40% in 2020 over the previous five-year average.
May is national Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the Wisconsin State Patrol is asking all motorcyclists and all other motorists to share the road, be alert and safe.
Preliminary data for 2020 for Wisconsin shows there were 2,095 motorcycle crashes, 1,788 motorcyclists injured and 112 motorcycle fatalities.
As warm weather returns, more motorcyclists will be on Wisconsin roads.
“Drivers must be in the habit of looking for motorcyclists,” said Capt. Craig Larson of the State Patrol’s Northwest Region based in Eau Claire.
“And motorcyclists should watch for other vehicles and get properly trained and licensed,” he said. “Together we can save lives.”
Motorcycle crashes often occur when a car or truck driver changes lanes, turns left or pulls out in front of a motorcycle.
Motorcycles are smaller and more difficult to see, especially in your blind spot.
Failure to yield the right of way to another vehicle can result in a $175 citation, but penalties are much more severe if the violation results in someone getting injured or killed.
Motorcyclists can do their part by getting properly licensed, wearing visible and protective equipment, and carefully scanning ahead for potential hazards such as gravel, debris or wildlife in the roadway.
Motorcyclists have two options to get the required Class M license.
Either pass a motorcycle driving skills test after making an appointment at a Division of Motor Vehicles service center or successfully complete a state Department of Transportation-approved rider education course.
Motorcyclists who successfully complete an approved safety course earn a skills test waiver used to obtain their Class M license.
“Whether a person is brand new to motorcycling or a returning rider, a safety course is a wise investment,” Larson said.
“Strong safety along our roadways requires all drivers to share the road, watch their speed, eliminate distractions and be alert.”