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May-October Is Most Dangerous Period for Motorcyclists; TxDOT Warns of Spike in Deaths

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Canyon Lake’s winding roads and scenic vistas are extremely popular with motorcyclists from around the area and state.

But as the weather heats up and bikes come out, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reminds drivers there’s a price to be paid for negligence and a disturbing trend to be aware of.

May through October is one of the most dangerous periods for motorcyclists in Texas, and last year’s statistics bear that out.

“Of all the motorcyclist deaths in Texas during 2020, more than 61% happened in that period,” said James Bass, executive director of TxDOT.

Motorcycle fatalities increased by 17% in 2020 compared to 2019 despite less traffic and a two-percent reduction in crashes, he said.

Last year, in the 7,481 motorcycle crashes in Texas, 1,856 motorcyclists were seriously injured, and 482 were killed. On average, a motorcyclist is killed in a crash on Texas roads every day, accounting for 12% of all traffic fatalities statewide.

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and TxDOT’s annual “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” is back to call attention to the safety precautions motorists can take to protect motorcyclists and themselves.

“It’s so important to remember that these motorcyclists don’t have the same protections that drivers in vehicles have, and that’s why we’re urging all motorists to stay watchful and alert when traveling alongside motorcyclists so everyone can reach their destination safely,” he said.

Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) reports that fatal crashes between motorcyclists and drivers often occur when drivers misjudge the motorcycle’s distance and speed and make left turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist.

Last year, almost one-third of Texas motorcycle fatalities occurred in an intersection or were intersection-related. TTI also points to driver inattention as a contributing factor to motorcycle crashes.

TxDOT offers these safety tips for drivers to protect motorcyclists and prevent crashes:

  • Take extra care when making a left turn. It’s safest to let the motorcycle pass to avoid turning in front of the rider.
  • Pay special attention at intersections. Nearly one in three motorcycle fatalities happens at a roadway intersection.
  • Give driving your full attention. Even a momentary distraction, such as answering a phone call or changing the radio station, can have deadly consequences.
  • Look twice when changing lanes. Check mirrors, check blind spots, and always use turn signals.
  • Give motorcyclists room when passing them. Move over to the passing lane and don’t crowd the motorcyclist’s full lane.
  • Stay back. If you’re behind a motorcycle, always maintain a safe following distance. When a motorcyclist downshifts instead of applying the brake to slow down, it can catch drivers off guard since there are no brake lights to signal reduced speed.
  • Slow down. Obey posted speed limits and drive to conditions.

The “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social-media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, like wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways.

TxDOT said #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.

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