SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA), A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) and other motorcycle advocates joined forces to kick off a statewide campaign called “Gear Up,” designed to promote continuing rider training and proper gear use. The campaign is highlighting and encouraging motorcyclists to prepare for the upcoming riding season through free training courses and educational materials available to improve motorcycle safety on Illinois roadways.
“IDOT is dedicated to motorcycle safety in Illinois and has developed a proven and effective traffic safety program to positively impact motorcyclists and the general public as a whole,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable of highway users, and we want to work together to promote motorcycle safety and help protect all of the motoring public.”
“Our goals are to educate our members in proper riding techniques and safe operation and to improve public acceptance and awareness of motorcyclists while maintaining a friendly, fun atmosphere,” said GWRRA Illinois District Director Dan Ribbing. “The Illinois District of the GWRRA is proud to cooperate with the State of Illinois and all of its departments in educating the motoring public.”
“The mission of the members of ABATE. of Illinois is to preserve the universal right to a safe, unrestricted motorcycling environment, and to propose and advocate actions that can be taken by elected and appointed officials to protect and conserve the natural resources of the State of Illinois, and ensure through professional management that sustainable use, recreational opportunities and enjoyment of these new resources is available for this and future generations,” said ABATE of Illinois, Inc.
Motorcycles represent slightly less than 3 percent of total vehicle registrations however motorcycle fatalities approach 14 percent of all vehicle fatalities. Statistics show that about half of motorcycle rider deaths occur in single-vehicle crashes. While causes of such crashes can be many and sometimes difficult to determine, statistics reveal several problem areas over which riders themselves have a degree of control. When properly trained, they can improve their chances of a safe ride.
IDOT offers the following tips as part of the “Gear Up” campaign:
• Dress with the proper riding gear. Riders should employ the use of a quality DOT-approved helmet to protect from devastating head injuries. Goggles or glasses constructed of shatter-resistant materials will help protect eyes. Jackets, long pants and gloves constructed of sturdy material will help protect the rider’s body in case of a fall. Strong over-the-ankle footwear will help protect ankles and feet. The use of high-visibility clothing for riders is an effective tool to enhance safety by alerting other drivers of your presence.
• Utilize a reputable preventive maintenance program for motorcycle equipment. Before the first ride of the season, motorcycles should be thoroughly inspected and serviced by a professional mechanic.
• Riders should take advantage of free training opportunities to help improve riding skills and to outline proven strategies to manage the inevitable risks of the sport. IDOT will make 25,000 free Motorcycle Training Slots available for all skill levels during the 2011 training season. To learn more about the free training courses, visit http://www.startseeingmotorcycles.org/Courses.asp.
• Make sure all motorcyclists are properly licensed. About 20 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes are not properly licensed.
• Obey traffic laws. Motorcyclists who obey traffic laws significantly improve their chances for a safe ride.
• DON’T DRINK AND RIDE. The use of alcohol plays a negative role in about 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities.
• Never ride beyond your ability. Riding skills improve with experience and training. Riders who are patient and gain these skills before trying advanced maneuvers increase their chances for a safe ride.
IDOT encourages all Illinois motorcyclists to get actively involved in creating a safe motorcycling environment for all. To learn more about IDOT’s motorcycle safety program, laws and regulations, statistics or additional educational materials please visit www.startseeingmotorcycles.org.