“Gear Up for a Safe Ride” is the message from the Illinois Department of Transportation to motorcyclists as they take to the highways. The unseasonably warm weather has brought out bikers across the state, and IDOT, along with the Illinois State Police and ABATE, a motorcycle education group, want riders to be safe while on the roads.
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Statistics show that motorcycles represent 3 percent of total vehicle registrations in Illinois, yet motorcycle fatalities make up about 16 percent of all vehicle fatalities. Half of motorcycle rider deaths occur in crashes involving only the motorcycle. Because of this, the “Gear Up for a Safe Ride” campaign stresses the use of proper protective clothing and other gear, such as protective glasses and helmets. Riders should also take advantage of free training opportunities made possible by IDOT. Aside from making sure riders are protected should a crash occur, motorcyclists are urged to check their bike before each ride. Checking the tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and kickstand should be part of the driving routine, according to ABATE. According to preliminary data from IDOT, traffic fatalities involving motorcyclists were up in 2011 while overall the number of fatal vehicle accidents is on a downward trend. In 2011 there were 144 motorcyclist fatalities, compared to 131 in 2010 and 130 in 2009.