Campaign for motorcycle safety begins

April 29, 2008 4:24:22 PM PDT
Now that spring is here, more and more motorcycles will be in traffic on expressways and streets in the Chicago area. A campaign was kicked off Tuesday to remind bikers and drivers how to safely share the road.

They're fast and they're fun but motorcycles are also extremely dangerous.

"You got no seat belt. You got no airbag. You aren't in a steel cage. If somebody hits you, it's going to hurt," said Larry Williams, Illinois Department of Transportation.

That's why IDOT held a press conference Tuesday to go over motorcycle safety and to encourage riders to wear helmets.

"We've seen crashes where the helmet has saved people, and a lot of people don't want to mess up their hair or like the freedom of having the wind blow through their hair, but much safer to have it on," said Pete Negro, Illinois State Police.

Last year 157 motorcyclists were killed in Illinois. Still, a lot of riders despise the idea of wearing a helmet.

"Part of the image that motorcycling has in our culture is freedom and the wind in your air, rolling down the road," said Johnny Scheff, Motoworks Chicago.

While a helmet could save your life in case of an accident, it also provides protection from flying debris.

While some motorcyclists don't want to wear a helmet, there are other steps to take: an armored jacket, leather gloves and riding boots will all help to reduce the risk of injury.

Some motorcyclists try to make their bikes especially loud so motorists will hear them.

"An aftermarket exhaust which will have less restriction and less baffling in there and because they have less restriction and less baffling, a little louder," said Rich Kozik, Illinois State Police.

But not everyone is convinced that loud pipes increase safety.

"They hear you after you pass them by and not coming. Other than irritating your neighbors, loud pipes do not save lives," said Scheff.

The biggest risk to motorcyclists is from inattentive car drivers.

"We're telling the motorists driving cars and trucks to be aware and take a second look. Motorcycles are smaller, a little more nimble, and a lot of times you don't see them," said Negro.

With high gas prices we are going to see more motorcyclists on the road this year.

IDOT is offering a free motorcycle safety training program. For more information, go to their web site, www.dot.state.il.us/cycle2.html


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