TxDOT report shows Texas motorcyclist deaths rising

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

May 12, 2022

One evening in April 2021, Eric Newell was out for a ride in Houston when his motorcycle was rear-ended by a vehicle, breaking both of his legs, dislocating his hips and injuring his back and hands. He is just one of 2,318 Texas motorcyclists seriously injured in crashes last year.

Crashes like Newell’s are one reason why the Texas Department of Transportation is observing National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, reminding drivers to be extra vigilant around riders and to give them extra space and consideration on the state’s roadways.

“On average, at least one motorcycle rider dies every day in a crash on our streets and highways,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Each of these riders is a husband or wife, someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister or mother or father. As more and more motorcyclists take to the road to enjoy the beautiful Texas scenery and warmer weather, it’s crucial that drivers remain alert and look out for people riding motorcycles.”

TxDOT’s annual “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign calls attention to the safety precautions motorists must take to protect motorcyclists. State officials report that 519 motorcycle riders died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, a 7% increase over the previous year. And even though motorcycles comprise less than 2% of vehicles in Texas, they accounted for 12% of the fatalities in 2021.

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

• Take extra care when making a left turn. Always assume motorcycles are closer than they appear and avoid turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
• Pay special attention at intersections. A third of motorcycle fatalities happen at roadway intersections.
• 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.

TxDOT is taking its “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign exhibit to cities across Texas this month. The campaign exhibit immerses participants in a virtual reality to experience from a driver’s perspective how difficult it is to spot motorcyclists in high-risk traffic situations—and to experience close calls and dangerous situations from a motorcyclist’s perspective.

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