Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, would like to make the public aware that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

It's important for motorcyclists to take an active role in their safety. Preliminary 2020 statistics indicate there were 173 crashes involving a motorcycle. In these crashes, 157 people were injured and 11 people were killed.

Please keep these suggestions in mind when you're on the road:

* Be visible. Motorists often have a hard time seeing you. Keep your headlight on, day or night. Use reflective strips/decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle. Be aware of other vehicle’s blind spots.

*Dress for safety. Wear a helmet and eye protection. Wear bright clothing. Wear thick or leather clothing for protection.

*Think safety while riding. Give yourself space to react to other motorists’ actions. Use lane positioning to increase visibility. Watch for turning vehicles. Signal your next action in advance. Pretend you’re invisible and drive defensively.

*Know your bike. Get formal training and take refresher courses. Practice riding your motorcycle before going into heavy traffic. Know how to handle your motorcycle in all types of road conditions.

Review the laws pertaining to operating a motorcycle on Missouri roadways.

* You must possess a valid license that shows you have successfully passed an examination for the operation of a motorcycle or motor-tricycle in order to operate one upon any highway of this state.

* Any qualified motorcycle operator who is 26 years of age or older may operate a motorcycle or motortricycle upon any highway of this state without wearing protective headgear. This is allowed only if the motorcycle operator maintains proof of financial responsibility in accordance with Chapter 303 RSMo and is covered by a health insurance policy or other form of insurance which will provide the person with medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a traffic crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle or motortricycle.

* Motorcyclists are required to follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicle operators.

Car and truck drivers need to share the road with motorcyclists and keep the following in mind:

* Drivers should actively watch for motorcyclists.

* Motorcycles may look farther away than they are due to their smaller size. It is also difficult to judge the speed at which a motorcycle is traveling as it approaches.

*Motorcycles are hidden easily in a vehicle’s blind spots, or masked by objects or backgrounds. Thoroughly check traffic before changing lanes!

*Motorcyclists may slow down by downshifting or easing off the throttle. So, you may not see a brake light. Allow extra distance between your vehicle and a motorcycle.

*A motorcycle’s turn signal does not cancel after the turn like a vehicle’s signal does. The motorcycle may not be turning, so pay attention.

*A motorcyclist will often adjust their position in the lane so they can see more easily or to avoid debris, wind, or passing vehicles. Allow the motorcyclist to share the lane; don’t assume they are being reckless.

*Stopping distance for motorcycles is similar to that of cars. But, slippery pavement can make stopping quickly difficult. Please allow more distance behind a motorcycle in these types of road conditions.

Too many people die in traffic crashes each year in Missouri. The choices you make when you’re behind the wheel matter. Make good choices, so you’ll never have to say, “If I could just go back …”

Follow the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Twitter for the most current news @MSHPTrooperGHQ.

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