There was an interesting motorcycle ride held Saturday to promote Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
It was called the seventh annual North Coast Motorcycle Safety Ride and included the five counties of Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Mahoning and Trumbull. The event was started back in 2005 because the number of motorcyclists killed that year rose to 10 just in Ashtabula County.
It is coordinated through the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Motorcycle Ohio, Safe Communities and University Hospitals. Proceeds benefit Safe Communities in all five counties. Safe Communities is affiliated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
For those not familiar with how a motorcycle charity ride works, I'll give you a brief overview. Motorcyclists show up at a given location, usually at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., pay a fee to register (this one is $15 for the rider and $5 for a passenger, which is about average) and ride the designated route. For that fee, the participants receive a meal and chance for prizes, as well as the camaraderie that comes with the ride. The food and prizes usually are donated, and volunteers do the work, so the overhead is low and the money raised is pretty good.
There are a lot of charity motorcycle rides in the Valley, but this one was a little different. It started in two locations, the Ashtabula County fairgrounds and at Bike Town Harley Davidson in Austintown. The two groups met at the Parkman Community Center in Geauga County, then traveled to the Cortland Moose and Family Center for safety displays, activities and food. Here is another unique thing about it: The ride was escorted by state troopers and local law enforcement.
I received a press release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol the other day that had some interesting statistics:
There were 167 motorcycle-related fatalities in Ohio in 2011, four more than the 163 killed in 2010. This is down significantly from 2008, when 215 people died in motorcycle-related crashes.
From 2009 to 2011, motorcycle-involved crashes resulted in a total of 503 fatalities and 11,452 injuries statewide.
Of the 489 motorcycle-involved fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011, the motorcyclist was at fault 70 percent of the time.
Forty-nine percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011 were impaired by alcohol or drugs.
OSHP troopers wrote 7,920 citations to motorcyclists from 2009 to 2011. This is a decrease of 2 percent over the previous three-year period from 2006 to 2008.
Citations for driving a motorcycle without an appropriate operator license or endorsement decreased by 3 percent between 2006 to 2008 and 2009 to 2011. These violations accounted for one in five motorcyclist citations.
Forty-three percent of motorcyclist citations included speeding violations during the period from 2009 to 2011. Compared with 2006 to 2008, speed citations decreased 2 percent. Nine percent of motorcyclist citations included an OVI arrest.
Those are some interesting numbers. But let us not forget that a lot of times motorists in vehicles simply do not see motorcycles, especially when the sun is in an odd position or after dark. Motorcyclists get rear-ended (one of the deadliest types of vehicle-motorcycle wrecks for the motorcyclist, percentage wise) and the driver turning left into the path of a motorcycle also is a common accident scenario. And there are the ever-present deer and other critters that pose hazards for motorcyclists.
I admire the efforts of the organizers to increase motorcycle safety awareness. I hope it helps. But shouldn't every month during the riding season be safety awareness month, for both motorcyclists and the general driving public? And by the way, I ride and always wear my helmet.
Robinson is the editor of the Tribune Chronicle. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.