Fresno police vigilant about motorcycle safety

August 2, 2013

Fresno, California police are on an aggressive motorcycle safety drive to combat practices that endanger motorcyclists on the road. Officers are implementing several measures to prevent motorcycle accidents. The police will be looking out for erratic behavior like popping wheelies and speeding, riders hopping from bar to bar, car drivers who do not yield the right of way and make turns in front of riders.

Motorcycle rider performing a stunt

Police will keep a close eye on riders engaging in stunts like wheelies on roadways. Image by ruffryderstx

Also, motorcycle enthusiasts will see an increased police presence at events like bike nights. Riders frequenting bars in the foothills will have to watch out for vigilant officers.

Rise in motorcycle fatalities

Such measures are being taken after an increase in the number of motorcycle accidents in the area. In 2011, around 14% of traffic fatalities in Fresno involved motorcycles or scooters.

Motorcycle fatalities in California have increased 175% in ten years, from 204 in 1998 to 560 in 2008. This rise in motorcyclist deaths occurred at a time when significant gains were achieved in other areas of traffic safety. Although there was a decline in motorcycle fatalities in 2009 and 2010, preliminary 2011 data indicated a possible increase. Motorcyclists being overrepresented in overall numbers of traffic deaths could be one of the reasons.

Reasons for motorcycle fatalities

The California Motorcyclist Safety Program lists three primary reasons for motorcycle collisions: unsafe speed, improper turning, and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the major safety concerns involving motorcyclists. “No driving while drunk” programs are regularly implemented for drivers of larger vehicles, but appropriate outreach is still needed to include motorcyclists as well.

A recent study also reveals “significantly higher number of single-vehicle crashes”. This means that motorcycles often crash on their own, without colliding with other vehicles. Many of these single-vehicle crashes occur when bikers are navigating curves without slowing down.

Drivers should use rear-view mirrors to check for motorcycles and other vehicles

Bigger vehicles like cars and trucks should check their rear-view mirrors for approaching motorcyclists. Image by Wikimedia Commons

Solutions for increasing motorists’ safety

Although the state enforces a mandatory helmet law, there is no significant punishment for violators. The fine can be anything ranging from $10 and “proof of correction” up to $250 and one year’s probation.

To manage risks faced by riders, a non-profit organization, The Motorcycle Safety Federation (MSF), has developed a SEE system through which riders are educated to see, judge, and respond to the road and traffic in a more efficient manner.

Acknowledging motorcycle riders and their presence on the road is another way to avert the risk to two-wheelers. Van Wyhe, a motorcycle officer in the Fresno’s traffic safety unit, hits the road on his motorcycle while off-duty and experiences little courtesy from other drivers than when he rides a police BMW. “We need to educate the public that there are a lot more (motorcycles) on the road,” he says.

The Fresno police will encourage bike riders to get more training besides taking an easy-to-pass state test for motorcycle license. Riders can obtain additional training through a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course.

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Category: Motorcycles

About the Author ()

A creative writer at heart, Lisa currently writes for SmartSign’s blogs and dabbles in content strategies for SEO. She spends the rest of the time lounging in the comforts of her home, surfing the internet for areas of interest, or traveling to unexplored destinations. Having previously studied and worked in the field of journalism and media, Lisa likes calling herself a web journalist. She takes special interest in grassroots and tribal issues, and topics concerning women empowerment. She swears that books are a person’s best travel companion, and that good food can liven up any dull day. Lisa lives in the beautiful city of Jaipur, India.

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