A time to remind motorists and motorcyclists to safely share the roadways
Submitted by Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns
Warmer weather has arrived, daylight hours are longer, and it is finally spring.
Motorcycle riders across Erie County are tuning up their bikes and getting ready for the riding season on the open road. Motorcycles are inexpensive to purchase, fuel efficient, fun to ride and easy to park. In Erie County alone, there are more than 21,000 registered riders who use their motorcycles for commuting, touring and other recreational activities.
According to the National Safety Council, although motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles and 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the United States, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities, with fatalities among motorcycle riders and passengers increasing by 8% from 2020 to 2021.
I ask all motorists, especially new drivers, to be alert to the presence of motorcycles, and to share the road safely. Motorcyclists often ride to one side of the lane and, at times, the rider can hide in your vehicle’s blind spot. Always look twice before turning or changing lanes to be sure your path is clear. Allow more following distance for motorcycles – two or three car lengths is recommended, more if the roads are wet or visibility is poor.
Riders should follow motorcycle safety protocols: Wear protective gear at all times, including a helmet that meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Transportation standard; ride within your skill limits; avoid riding in poor weather conditions; use turn signals; and never ride impaired or distracted. Riders can also benefit from any motorcycle safety programs offered to learn the critical skills needed to ride safely, including seasoned riders who want to reinforce safe driving practices. Course graduates may also qualify for insurance premium discounts with some insurers. Class locations and fees can be found at nysmsp.org.
Before hitting the road this driving season, I remind motorcyclists that their motorcycle registration expires annually on April 30, so take time to visit the Erie County Auto Bureau to “Renew Local.” In addition, those who drive a motorcycle need to be properly licensed, as 43% of fatal bike accidents involve an unlicensed driver. Take the time to get properly licensed – not only because it’s the law, but because doing so may save a life.
I urge everyone to use caution when sharing the road this summer. When we share the road, we share the responsibility of keeping each other safe. Together, the more we raise awareness and follow the rules of the road, the safer everyone is. Let’s ride smart, ride safe, and enjoy the season.
For more information on motorcycle licensing and registration, visit erie.gov/clerk/autobureau or call the clerk’s outreach center at 716-858-8864.