HAGERSTOWN, MD (May 4, 2016) – Today, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) partnered with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and ABATE of Washington County to kick off a campaign focused on reducing the number of motorcycle crashes and fatalities. In 2015, motorcycle fatalities increased to 72, up from 66 in 2014. On average, more than 1,400 riders and passengers are injured in motorcycle crashes each year in Maryland. To raise awareness of the tragic increase in motorcycle fatalities, Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed May as Maryland Motorcycle Safety Month.
“The increase in motorcycle fatalities is simply unacceptable and totally preventable,” said Christine Nizer, MVA Administrator and Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “To combat this tragic increase, we are launching an awareness campaign to encourage vehicle drivers and riders to Share the Road.”
Warmer weather coupled with the scenic roads throughout Washington County attracts thousands of motorcyclists each year. Unfortunately, a motorcyclist is six times more likely to be injured and 27 times more likely to die in a crash according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Each year, we respond to far too many crashes involving motorcyclists,” said Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore. “These are our friends, neighbors, sons and daughters. We all need to look out for one another, riders and drivers alike.”
“I’m tired of going to funerals for people who just went out for a ride,” said Gary “Pappy” Boward of ABATE of Washington County, and ABATE of Maryland, the state’s largest motorcyclist rights organization. “We don’t have a frame or a bumper to protect us. We’re asking riders to do their part, to be licensed and get trained. And we’re asking drivers to put down the cell phone and to look twice before making turns or changing lanes. You could save somebody’s life.”
Throughout the motorcycle riding season, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will use television and web advertisements, banners at MVA branch offices and motorcycle dealerships, and motorist-awareness yard signs throughout Western Maryland and the state to remind everyone that riders and drivers need to Share the Road.
“We want to reach riders and drivers alike with the Share the Road message,” said Sheriff Mullendore. “We want everyone to make it home at the end of their trip.” To reach out to community members, the Sheriff’s Office and ABATE of Washington County formed the Bikers and Badges program, where motorcycle riders and Sheriff’s Office staff deliver presentations to groups on how to Share the Road safely with motorcyclists.
MDOT and its partners remind drivers and riders of a few simple rules that can help save lives:
- Park the phone before you drive.
- Look twice for motorcyclists, especially before making turns, crossing intersections or changing lanes.
- Watch your speed at intersections and don’t drive aggressively.
- Always have a sober ride home – never drive impaired.
- With warmer weather, please realize that motorcyclists are out there with you, especially on weekends.
- Obey the rules of the road.
- Watch your speed and don’t drive aggressively.
- Drinking and riding don’t mix. One-third of all motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes have been drinking.
- Speeding and riding along the shoulder or the dotted highway lines are illegal.
- If you ride like there’s no tomorrow… there won’t be. Please ride safe.
The announcement took place at the Hagerstown MVA, in conjunction with the Fast Track motorcycle licensing event. The MVA’s Fast Track program is an expedited process that allows experienced riders a chance to earn their motorcycle license in one day. More information on Fast Track program.
Note: Maryland's Toward Zero Deaths campaign focuses on preventing impaired driving, aggressive driving and distracted driving and promotes seatbelt use. For more information on the Toward Zero Deaths campaign, please visit towardzerodeathsmd.com.