Illinois state police move to address Chicago area motorcycle accidents as Labor Day weekend approaches

With Illinois bikers hitting the street in big numbers through the Labor Day weekend and the media focusing on the increase in motorcycle fatalities, the Illinois State Police have announced a new initiative aimed at motorcycle awareness.

The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported Illinois motorcycle accidents are up 22 percent, from 2,180 in 2007 to 2,663 last year.

The Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers at Abels & Annes urge riders and motorists to do your part in reducing motorcycle accidents. Many accidents are caused by other vehicles who either don’t take the time to look for motorcycles or misjudge how fast the much-smaller motorcycles are approaching.

As we reported in a blog last month, fatality statistics are sobering for motorcycle riders across the country. Nationwide, motorcycle fatalities increased for the 11th straight year and accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A total of 5,290 riders were killed in 2008, compared to 5,174 in 2007. The increase came in a year when federal statistics revealed a steep drop in virtually every other category, including a 13 percent decline in motor vehicle fatalities.

On Friday, Illinois State Police Director Jonathon E. Monken was joined by the Illinois Department of Transportation and State Farm Insurance Company to announce efforts to increase motorcycle safety awareness.

“The Illinois State Police continues its commitment towards reducing traffic fatalities to record setting levels through enforcement and education efforts,” said ISP Director Jonathon Monken. “Tragically, however, one area that is quickly on the rise nationally is motorcycle fatalities. We hope by partnering with State Farm and the Illinois Department of Transportation in order to call attention to the nationwide increase in motorcycle fatalities, we will also emphasize motorcycle safety awareness.”The ISP encourages motorcyclists to take a rider safety course to hone their riding skills, and offers the following safety tips for new riders all the way up to seasoned veterans:

– Although Illinois does not mandate wearing a motorcycle helmet, use of approved helmets, protective body wear, boots and gloves is strongly recommended.

– Improve your visibility by wearing brightly colored clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night.

– Be alert for animals alongside and on the roadway, not only in rural areas, but in urban areas as well.

– Don’t ride beyond 80% of your riding capabilities. To do so leaves no margin for the unexpected.

– When riding with another motorcycle, stagger your position. This allows both riders to take evasive action safely should the need occur.

– Don’t become fixed on what’s just beyond your front tire. Be aware of what’s ahead. Safe riders remain aware of developing situations 12-16 seconds ahead. This includes other vehicles, potholes, roadway obstructions, and other potential hazards. This allows time to plan and react in a controlled manner.

– Oil, grease and other fluids from cars and trucks generally collects in the middle of the lane. Avoid these potentially slick areas by riding in the normal wheel tracks of these vehicles.

– In the event emergency braking is required, remember motorcycles have far better stopping capabilities than cars and trucks. As you’re avoiding the hazard, scan for a safe escape route while watching for vehicles approaching from behind.

– Before proceeding through an intersection, check left, check front, check right, and check left again. Checking left first is important because this is the first lane you cross. Continue to scan in the intersection in a clockwise pattern, checking traffic approaching in front, in case that vehicle turns left in front of you. 77% of motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle happen in this manner.

– Don’t lend your motorcycle to someone without knowing his or her skill level and making sure they have the proper license.

– Don’t drink and ride. Alcohol slows reactions and impairs function.

The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes have been advocating motorcycle safety on our blog throughout the summer.

Our summer blog on motorcycle safety can be found by clicking here

Click here to read our post on 10 things all drivers should know about motorcycles.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, contact the personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS.

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