New York, NY - May 2, 2018 - As Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month gets into gear this May, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) are reminding riders and motorists to do their part to keep everyone safe on our roadways. Riders are reminded to wear federal DOT-approved helmets whenever they ride and motorists should be prepared to share the road with motorcyclists. This year, as an additional reminder, GTSC-approved motorcycle awareness messages are on display at 130 fuel filling stations in areas across New York State.
“In New York, we pride ourselves on maintaining a high level of safety for all drivers and motorcyclists, and we all play a part,” said Terri Egan, DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and Acting GTSC Chair. “Safety starts before we ever hit the road. For motorcyclists, having the appropriate gear and training are essential. Drivers should remember that motorcyclists are more vulnerable and not always easy to spot, so it is important to stay alert and remain vigilant, especially this time of year.”
With 750,461 licensed motorcyclists in New York State and 350,420 registered motorcycles, New York has long made motorcycle safety a priority. Last year marked the 20th anniversary of New York’s implementation of a rider-funded motorcycle safety training and awareness program known as the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program (NYSMSP). The program uses a nationally recognized motorcycle training curriculum, developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Ben Zadrozny, NYSMSP manager for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, said, “We do much more than teach our students how to operate a motorcycle. We train our students how to be conspicuous on the road with both lane position as well as wearing the proper protective high visibility gear, especially a helmet that meets DOT specifications. There are many lifesaving skills that we teach our students, both on the mental and physical aspects of riding, to keep them safe on the road every day.”
The courses teach effective turning, braking maneuvers, tips to avoid obstacles, strategies in traffic, how to select appropriate protective apparel and vehicle maintenance. Nearly 240,000 motorcyclists have participated in the NYSMSP and have been trained in MSF courses since the program began in 1998. To find information on where to take a motorcycle safety course near you, go to the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program website.
Last year, the State also marked the 50th anniversary of its first-in-the-nation law requiring motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet. The state Legislature adopted the law in 1966, and it took effect on January 1, 1967. Multiple states soon followed New York’s lead. The University of Michigan Highway Safety Research Institute said New York’s legislation “served as the model for most other states' laws.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated in a report last June that 87 lives were saved in 2015 as a result of New York State’s motorcycle helmet law and five more could have been saved if the riders were wearing a helmet. NHTSA estimates $1.1 billion was saved by helmet use from what would have been lost productivity, medical expenses, legal, court and EMS costs, and lost quality-of-life. The report can be viewed here: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812388.
DMV and GTSC developed a video last year on the importance of selecting a federal Department of Transportation-compliant helmet, which provides a high level of safety for riders and their passengers.
When buying a helmet, look for the DOT sticker on the back to be certain it is compliant with federal standards. Consumers should also look for a tag inside the helmet that states the manufacturer’s name, model, size, month and year of manufacture, and the materials it is made of. If a helmet does not include these items, it is not DOT compliant.
If a helmet is damaged or the lining has worn down, it should be replaced. Riders should never buy a used helmet but should get one of their own to be sure it is in proper condition and fits correctly.
Albany County Deputy Sheriff Gregory Stiglmeier lost part of his leg as a result of a motorcycle crash in 2015. Despite his injury, he maintained his focus and worked to meet all the requirements to pursue his dream career in law enforcement. Now he encourages others to ride safely.
“Most people often think nothing will happen to them, until it actually does,” he said. “I always had that mentality when I rode, that nothing could actually happen to me. Then it did, and you have to overcome the obstacles that you never thought would happen to YOU!”
Onondaga County Sheriff Gene J. Conway emphasized the need for all users to be conscious of sharing the road.
“Motorcycle safety is a two-way street, where both bikers and motorists have a role,” Conway said. “Now is a good time to keep in mind the importance of these roles in order for everyone to be safe on the roadways.”
Motorcycle riders are especially vulnerable on the road. Motorcyclist fatalities occurred nearly 28 times more frequently than passenger car occupant fatalities in traffic crashes. Mixing riding with alcohol use proved to be an often-deadly combination, with 37 percent of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2016 impaired by alcohol.