Report highlights motorcycle safety concerns for all drivers

As the weather in Indiana warms up, motorcycle owners are taking to the roads in greater numbers. In order to celebrate Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and Indiana University Public Policy Institute have released their annual motorcycle crash fact sheet. The report contains both good news and bad news.

Perhaps the most important good news is the fact that motorcycle deaths in Indiana in 2018 fell to 118 from 147 in 2017. Moreover, the state's five-year trend of motorcycle accidents is also declining. Perhaps the state's "Share the Road" safety program is working. More numbers show that more work is required.

According to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the state has more than 230,000 registered motorcycles, with almost 416,000 motorcycle endorsements on drivers' licenses. Surprisingly, more than 50 percent of motorcycle drivers who crashed in 2018 did not have either a valid drivers' license or a motorcycle endorsement.

A spokesman for the bureau of motor vehicles said that the state hopes to reduce the number of unlicensed motorcycle operators and the number of motorcycle accidents by providing both entry-level and advanced-skills motorcycle training around the state. At present, five such schools exist in Fort Wayne alone. The motorcycle manufacturer also offers extensive motorcycle riding and safety schools.

Common motorcycle driver mistakes include speeding, improper passing, unsafe backing, driving distracted or impaired, following too closely and not allowing motorcycles full lane width. The severity of the safety problem is shown by a single statistic: motorcycles are involved in fewer than 2 percent of crashes in Indiana, but are involved in 13 percent of the state's fatal accidents.

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