Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Announces First-Ever Motorcycle Safety Fair Kicks Off Riding Season

The New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today announced that the state held its first-ever motorcycle safety fair at Albany's Empire State Plaza Concourse, which included hands-on exhibits, demonstrations, and information to keep ...

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First-ever motorcycle safety fair kicks off riding season and marks Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.

Photo by: NYS DMV, via Flickr.

Albany, NY - May 5, 2016 - The New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today announced that the state held its first-ever motorcycle safety fair at Albany's Empire State Plaza Concourse, which included hands-on exhibits, demonstrations, and information to keep motorcyclists and the motorists with whom they share the road safe during riding season and beyond. The fair was held in conjunction with Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month, when states across the nation raise awareness among all motorists about the importance of sharing the road.

"With breathtaking views from one end of the state to the other, New York is one of the best destinations for motorcycle riding anywhere in the country. But we must work together to ensure it is the safest as well," said GTSC Acting Chair and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. "I thank our partners who worked to put on this informational safety fair and those who work tirelessly each day to keep New Yorkers safe on our roadways."

The fair, held on May 5, included exhibits, demonstrations, and information for motorists to learn more about and stay aware of motorcyclists as the weather warms up, and for motorcyclists to ensure they are always riding as safely as possible. Features included:

  • A helmet display, provided by GTSC, to show riders examples of helmets that comply and do not comply with state law, as well as protective features.
  • A "motorcycle down" exhibit, which contains stories and information that show the tragic impact that driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol can have, especially for motorcyclists.
  • Examples of proper riding gear for men and women, provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), and fatal vision goggles that mimic varying degrees of intoxication to show the impact alcohol and other impairments can have on driving.
  • Educational materials provided by the New York State Department of Health relating to the costs associated with injuries caused by motorcycle crashes.

Preliminary data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR)'s Traffic Safety Statistical Repository (TSSR) shows that in 2015, 160 people died and more than 4,400 people were injured in motorcycle crashes in the state. A county breakdown of motorcycle crashes can be found here and information about 2014 motorcycle crashes statewide can be found here. There are more than 736,500 licensed motorcyclists, 350,000 registered motorcycles, and 35,600 motorcycle permit holders in New York State.

"Every year, thousands of motorcyclists are rushed to New York's hospitals with broken bones, collapsed lungs, concussions, and other life-threatening injuries," New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker said. "While prompt medical attention enables some riders to make a full recovery, others are not as fortunate. Motorcyclists are much more likely than car passengers to die in a traffic crash. That's why it's so critically important for riders to wear an approved helmet, and for all of us to watch for motorcycles and share the road."

In May 2015, DMV and GTSC announced that 70 percent of motorcycle permit holders in New York State elected to take motorcycle safety courses in 2014, up from 51 percent in 2010. Completion of these intensive safety courses, which are offered by the MSF under an agreement with the DMV, give riders the opportunity to receive hands-on training and enables motorcycle permit holders to waive the basic road test required by the DMV for licensure.

"Through the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers training courses to match a variety of skill levels and rider experience," said MSF Program Manager Ben Zadrozny. "Whether you are new to motorcycling or have been riding for years, training is an essential part of being safe on the road. The best place for a new rider to start once they've made the decision to ride is by completing a MSF Basic RiderCourse."

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injury and even death than other motorists because they lack the protection of a vehicle around them. In addition to visually checking mirrors and blind spots for motorcyclists before switching lanes and at intersections, motorists sharing the road with motorcycles should remember never try to share a lane with motorcyclists and allow them a full lane width. As always, motorists should also use signals, never tailgate or drive while distracted, and allow more following distance around motorcyclists.

GTSC encourages motorcyclists to follow these safety tips:

  • Always wear an approved helmet and eye protection. "Novelty helmets" offer little protection to the rider in a crash and are illegal to wear on New York State roadways.
  • Always wear high-quality riding gear designed to protect the rider during a fall, including over-the-ankle boots, full-finger gloves with padding, and jackets and pants with armor protection at impact points.
  • Wear high-visibility vests, garments with reflectorized features, and accessories to boost your visibility to other drivers.
  • Maintain your motorcycle properly. Make sure your lights and horn are working, both mirrors are adjusted, and tires are properly inflated and have legal tread depth. Good traction is a key component to safe handling and braking in normal and adverse situations.
  • Maintain a high level of awareness. Scan the roadway constantly for dangers and ride alert. If you are tired, take a break and re-energize to boost your concentration.
  • Never drink alcohol and ride a motorcycle.
  • Share the road safely. Treat others with respect and don't allow yourself to get caught up in road-rage situations.
  • If you are preparing to cross traffic or turn left, take a second look to make sure it is safe to proceed.
  • Slow down. Take your time and maintain control of the motorcycle.
  • Allow adequate space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Use the "two second" rule as a safety zone.
  • Observe and obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals.
  • Let other motorists know your intentions. Signal when you turn with your directional lights or hand signals. Also, flashing your brake light periodically before you stop will alert drivers behind you to be cautious.

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "The State Police continue our commitment to making roads safer for all operators, including motorcyclists, through education and active enforcement. As the weather gets warmer, drivers should keep an eye out for motorcycles, making sure to take a second look before changing lanes or pulling out into traffic. We also want to remind motorcycle operators to use proper safety equipment and designated lanes. We can all work to make our roads safer by obeying traffic laws and choosing not to drive distracted or impaired."

Across the country, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 4,600 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, and 88,000 were injured. Additionally, according to NHTSA:

  • The percentage of motorcycle riders who were intoxicated in fatal crashes (27 percent) was greater than the percentage of intoxicated drivers of passenger cars (23 percent) and light trucks (21 percent) in fatal crashes in 2014.
  • In 2013, 29 percent of all fatally injured motorcycle riders had BAC levels of .08 or higher.
  • In 2014, 41 percent of fatally injured motorcycle riders and 53 percent of fatally injured motorcycle passengers were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

More information can be found by visiting GTSC's website, DMV's website, and the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program website.