Recent spike in motorcycle-related deaths prompts discussion about safety
POSTED: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 5:38pm
UPDATED: Saturday, August 10, 2013 - 3:12pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Recently there have been several traffic fatalities involving motorcycles. The most recent happened shortly after midnight in Port Allen. Law enforcement and riders are taking a hard look at how to avoid another tragic outcome.
Darrin Baymen has been riding for 15 years, and he said wearing the right protective gear is not just a regulation, it could make all the difference in an accident.
"I always wear a full-faced helmet that is DOT approved. I was wearing a leather jacket, riding boots, long sleeves, and long pants, always," Baymen said.
Baymen's been in one accident, but he said his protective gear saved him.
"I was making a left turn and a car ran a red light and hit me. You know, knock on wood, I was not injured and my bike was totaled," Baymen said. "However, the way I was impacted, it tossed me off the bike and I rolled and I wasn't injured, just some minor scrapes and bruises."
Baymen also works in a bike shop, and he said accidents have become too common.
"A lot of riders will be listening to the radio or smoking a cigarette or drinking their coffee. When you're on a bike, you have to be alert and aware at all times," Baymen said. "You always have to be scanning the horizons to make sure that if anything bad is going to happen, you have an escape route planned already."
Jared Sandifer, Public Information Officer of Louisiana State Police Troop A, said both drivers and motorcyclists should be more aware of each other on the roads.
"A lot of times they're harder to see. People that are in cars have a harder time to seeing motorcycles because they are so small. We just ask that they be wary of their surroundings at all times," Sandifer said. "Especially during summer months there's going to be an increase in motorcycle riders. They need to be wary that they're out there. Give them a little more time at intersections. When you come to a four-way stop make sure you look carefully for motorcycles."
Baymen has some advice for new riders.
"Take your time with it. You've got plenty of time to learn how to ride," Baymen said. "Get comfortable on your bike on rides that you're familiar with and then gradually as you get more practice, venture out further and further."
State Police said there have been 40 fatal accidents involving motorcyclists this year alone. Baymen told me it's important that new drivers take a riders safety course and experienced riders should brush up on their safety practices, too.
For more information on how to stay safe on the highways, you can go to the Louisiana Highway Safety website: http://www.lahighwaysafety.org/motorcycle.html