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Dane County Sheriff's Office

Motorcycle Crashes Don’t Need To Happen

July 09, 2008
Contact: Elise Schaffer, PIO Phone: (608) 284-6142 Email: schaffer@co.dane.wi.us
Sheriff's Office

With higher gas prices and the summer weather, more and more of us are taking to motorcycles for transportation. Unfortunately, increased motorcycle traffic results in higher motorcycle crashes. But virtually all motorcycle crashes are preventable. People choosing to ride a motorcycle need to respect that being safe requires more attention and commitment. Take a motorcycle safety course, be committed to wearing protective gear, take steps to make you more visible in traffic, and ride responsibly. Alcohol is a major contributor to motorcycle crashes. Whether it is the motorcyclist that has consumed alcohol or the driver of the vehicle sharing the road with the motorcyclist, intoxicated drivers are dangerous. Alcohol is a depressant drug that affects safety as it lowers or depresses brain activity. Motorcycling is an activity that requires your full attention. You must operate the clutch, throttle, both brakes and shift gears. In addition you must constantly be looking for road hazards. When you have consumed alcohol your thinking is clouded, your vision is blurred, your reflexes are slower and your judgment is impaired. This is further complicated by the fact that even as you drink your first couple of alcoholic beverages, your ability to judge your impairment is affected. All of this puts you and others at great risk of death or a disabling injury. There are some simple solutions to this deadly epidemic that has killed and maimed so many motorcyclists. You can drink at home or at a place you don’t have to leave afterward, you can use a designated/sober driver or you can you abstain from the use of alcohol. There are plenty of other tasty options out there such as: coffee, tea, soda, non-alcoholic beer and “mocktails”, which are becoming very popular. Please help save lives by not drinking and driving or riding. Please also help by encouraging others not to ride a motorcycle after consuming alcohol. The best option – if you are going to drink, don’t even think about riding. Last year, 111 motorcyclists were killed in Wisconsin. Approximately 40% of those crashes involved alcohol. And almost half the total fatal crashes involved only the motorcycle. These statistics, as well as many others, make it very clear that virtually all of these crashes were preventable by the motorcyclist. In the Dane County area we are experiencing an alarming increase in incidents involving motorcycles operating at high speeds, doing wheelies, and dangerous operation. While many of these sport bikes are capable of operating at speeds of twice the speed limit or more, at high speeds riders have a fraction of a second to react to something happening around them. Operating a motorcycle in this manner is not a gamble of “if” something tragic will happen; it is only a matter of “when”. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office has zero tolerance for reckless motorcycle operation; riders will be cited for reckless driving. Bottom line is that motorcyclists need to understand and respect the fact that riding safe requires all of your attention and ability. You as the motorcyclist are responsible for your safety. It also requires restraint from the temptation to exceed the speed limit, do wheelies, weave through traffic and other reckless operation that at the time seems fun. Be smart, ride safe, ride sober, and survive. ##