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Tennessee Highway Safety Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol, AAA, Vanderbilt remind drivers to look twice during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

TENNESSEE – On Wednesday, May 3, the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) hosted a press event with the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), AAA – The Auto Club Group, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center to kick off Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The event took place in conjunction with the Seventh Annual Music City Police Motorcycle Skills and Training Competition, hosted by the THP’s “Falcons” Motor Unit at Opry Mills in Nashville. Click here for event photos: https://goo.gl/photos/mLK55Ki2s6Cex7dG7.

“The purpose of this initiative is to educate drivers and keep riders safe,” said Vic Donoho, Director of the THSO. “The weather is beautiful, and we want everyone to enjoy it. So, we ask all roadway users to exercise safety, drive sober, stay alert, and look twice for motorcycles.”

According to Dr. Bradley Dennis of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, there is often a spike in motorcycle-related trauma this time of year in Tennessee. Three types of injuries most commonly seen associated with motorcycle crashes are orthopedic injuries (i.e. broken bones and dislocations), significant road rash, and traumatic brain injury.

“Traumatic brain injuries are the most dreaded injuries and can be fatal,” said Dennis. “These are almost always the result of riding helmetless or with an inadequate helmet.”

According to the Tennessee Integrated Traffic Analysis Network (TITAN), Tennessee experienced 3,116 motorcycle crashes statewide last year, resulting in 147 motorcyclist fatalities. Eight motorcyclists killed in 2016 were not wearing helmets.

The most common causes of motorcycle crashes are drugs and alcohol, speed, and other drivers, said Dennis. Driving a motorcycle requires full attention to the road and surroundings. The winding roads of the Cumberland Plateau and East Tennessee are some of the most scenic rides in the country. These are popular destinations for motorcyclists. Too much speed, however, can ruin a ride very quickly.

“Remember, a motorcycle is not forgiving,” said Major Tony Barham of the THP. “If you are speeding, riding recklessly, or riding under the influence, then you are increasing your chances of being involved in a serious crash. As riders, we must take responsibility for our actions and ride responsibly.”

Here are motorcycle safety tips provided by AAA – The Auto Club Group and Tennessee Highway Patrol:

Passenger Vehicle Drivers

  • Always look twice. Know that motorcycles are on the roadways. Actively look for and expect them.
  • Always give motorcyclists plenty of room. They need as much space as passenger vehicles. Increase that distance when the weather or road conditions are poor.
  • Limit distractions at all times while driving.
  • Enlist the help of other passengers to watch, and listen for motorcyclists.

Motorcycle Riders

  • Keep your head on a swivel. Constantly scan traffic ahead of you, both approaching and traveling in the same direction. Check your mirrors to observe traffic approaching behind you. Use extra caution as you approach side streets or enter into an intersection. Allow yourself space to react to hazards.
  • Upgrade your motorcycle’s brake lights to bright LED lights. LED lights are much brighter than standard, factory-issued lightbulbs.
  • Upgrade your front and rear turn signals with LED lights.
  • Install a brighter headlight that provides you with more of a visual presence to oncoming motorists during the daytime. This will also allow you to observe the road better at night for foreign objects or curves in the road.
  • Make sure that you are wearing a DOT-approved helmet. Skull cap helmets are not DOT-approved and do not provide sufficient protection.
  • Wearing proper clothing is a just as important as your helmet. Wear a jacket and protective leather chaps to prevent road rash.

For more information about motorcycle safety or the THSO, please visit www.tntrafficsafety.org.