Authorities urge caution, better training to avoid motorcycle wrecks

After three motorcyclists died Thursday in separate crashes over less than nine hours in Franklin County, authorities are emphasizing the importance of motorcycle safety as summer approaches.

More motorcyclists are hitting the road to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the warm weather, but they should be cautious, said Mike Stock, the safety and educational director for ABATE of Ohio Foundation, based in Hilliard. ABATE, which stands for American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, is an educational and advocacy group for motorcyclists.

The most important step, Stock said, is proper training. Some motorcyclists will acquire temporary permits, which do not allow them to ride at night, on the highway or without a helmet, but will not go through training courses or even take the test to be licensed, he said. The permit expires after one year but can be renewed.

“The people who are being trained are better riders and more likely to not get involved in an accident or be a little better prepared if they’re in an accident,” Stock said.

Other recommendations include staying alert, driving sober and wearing proper gear, including a helmet. Ohio law does not require licensed riders older than 18 to wear a helmet, but helmets are important to help avoid fatal accidents, said Lt. Robert Sellers of the State Highway Patrol.

Of the 157 motorcycle fatalities this past year, 71 percent of those killed were not wearing helmets. All three killed Thursday were wearing helmets.

Though there are many recommendations for motorcyclists, safety is a shared responsibility of everyone on the road, Sellers said. Drivers should treat motorcycles as any other vehicles by giving them space and not tailgating, he said.

ABATE of Ohio Foundation, in collaboration with the state, runs educational campaigns with signs and magnets that say, “Look twice, save a life,” and “Watch out for motorcycles.” Many drivers will often overlook motorcycles, which can lead to crashes. Stock urges drivers to remove any objects hanging from rear-view mirrors that can obstruct the field of vision, as well as looking twice before turning in intersections.

“We’re often overlooked,” Stock said. “It’s usually worse for us, too, because we don’t have the protection a car has.”

The motorcyclists who died on Thursday were Daniel Jones-Quartey, 27, Michael K. Bruce, 42, and William F. Parker, 27, all of Columbus. 

“Know your abilities, your limitations and your machine — that way you are prepared in case anything bad happens,” Sellers said.

Originally published for The Columbus Dispatch on June 15, 2018.

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