It was in 2008 when May was declared Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. This is the time of year when all Kentuckians are encouraged to learn more about the importance of motorcycle safety. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month was created to remind all motorists to safely share the road and help prevent death and injury on Kentucky roadways. In 2007, motorcycle fatalities reached 5,174 nationwide, and this figure rose to 5,290 in 2008. In Kentucky, a total of 2,109 crashes involving motorcycles happened in 2008. In 2010, motorcycle crashes in Kentucky decreased to 1,881. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month has inspired many activities and safety campaigns, which has helped keep crash and fatality rates down.
Any person who operates or rides as a passenger on a motorcycle, motor scooter or other two-wheeled motorized vehicle is considered a motorcyclist. In 2012, HB 328, an act relating to the operation of a motorcycle, was passed in the legislative session. Amending KRS 186.450, HB 328 allowed a person who received an intermediate operator’s license to do the following:
- Apply for a motorcycle instruction permit
- Make a motorcycle instruction permit good for one year, with the ability to renew the permit one time
- Allow a person whose motorcycle instruction permit has expired to renew
- Apply for a motorcycle operator’s license if the person can present proof of successful completion of a motorcycle safety education course
The HB 328 ended the routine of motorcyclists repeatedly renewing a permit instead of getting a motorcycle license. At the same time, this obliged motorcyclists to complete the Motorcycle Safety Course before receiving a license. The bill helped educate and ensure that riders of motorcycles went through the necessary training before obtaining a license.
Groups spreading motorcycle safety awareness
In 2009, Kentucky State Police (KSP) hosted “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Day.” It was a full day of activities including a comprehensive motorcycle safety course covering topics from safe riding tips to proper gear and riding sober. In 2012, the new motorcycle operator’s license test also highlighted Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The objective of the test was to help motorcyclists familiarize themselves with the fundamental riding skills and make Kentucky roads a safer place for everyone.
It has been six years since Kentucky joined and observed this important event. This year, June 2014, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety is partnering with the Kentucky Motorcycle Program on the “Gear Up. Train Up. Ride Kentucky.” campaign. It’s meant to remind motorcyclists to wear protective gear and undergo proper rider safety training. As part of the campaign, radio stations broadcasted safety tips and digital ads in areas such as the county clerk offices, gas stations, motorcycle dealerships and Department of Motor Vehicle Offices. The ads were placed in counties with the highest number of motorcycle crashes.
It’s important that we share the road. Based on statistics, motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger vehicle occupants. Thus, we have to be more alert and always be on the lookout for motorcycle operators. We can get involved by spreading the word and increase awareness about motorcycle safety. The more people that are informed, the fewer accidents we’ll have in Kentucky.