Based on this week's weather, March is coming in more like a lamb than a lion.
And when the temperatures shift upward, so do the number of motorcycles we see on the road.
While May is technically Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois, the campaign could extend to every month where there’s enough decent weather for motorcycle enthusiasts to head out on the roads.
The Illinois Department of Transportation urges riders to do pre-ride safety inspections and wear high-visibility clothing and a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmet. Illinois also offers a free Cycle Rider Safety Training Program to licensed residents. The program is paid for through a portion of motorcyclists’ license and registration fees.
Federal statistics show a motorcyclist is more vulnerable than a passenger vehicle occupant in the event of a crash. According to IDOT, motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users. Motorcyclist deaths occurred 28 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles, based on 2016 fatal crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
You've likely heard of the "Start Seeing Motorcycles Campaign," and you can find more about rider safety at idot.illinois.gov.
The issue is definitely a local concern thanks to the natural scenery that draws motorcycle enthusiasts. As the weather improves, both local and out-of-area riders will increase in numbers. We hope the yellow banners and yard signs proclaiming the Start Seeing Motorcycles message will serve as constant reminders to be responsible.
Please, be careful. Motorcyclists, drivers, pedestrians — all of us. To the drivers, remember motorcycles (and bicycles, for that matter) have a legal right to share the road, but they have smaller profiles and can behave differently from the cars you're used to seeing in your mirrors.
To the motorcyclists, we suggest wearing a helmet. It is not required by law, and we know there are plenty of responsible motorcycle operators who choose not to use a helmet. Helmeted or not, please have the necessary training and safety wherewithal to protect yourself.
Taking a rider safety class is a great idea. It's too bad there aren't as many refresher courses for automobile drivers. Regular readers of our police coverage know fatal traffic accidents happen year round without the influence of motorcycles, and although safety seems to be increasing, there always is room for improvement.
Please be careful. A thoughtless moment while operating a car or motorcycle can lead to instant death, or serious injuries that linger for a lifetime. Even a near-miss can be traumatic and troublesome.
Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to the task at hand, and get to your destination safely. The more watchful everyone is, the fewer newspaper stories there are about lives cut short.