Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month coincides with rising temperatures this May as thousands of Hoosier motorcyclists shake off their winter blues and cruise. The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute partners with Indiana motorcycle groups to remind all motorists to share the road.

ICJI and the Indiana University Public Policy Institute published new statistics in their 2018 Motorcycle Crash Fact Sheet at www.in.gov/cji/files/Crash_Facts_Motorcycles2018.pdf.

Motorcycles are involved in less than 2 percent of crashes. but make up nearly 13 percent of all Indiana traffic deaths. Motorcycle crashes – and resulting injuries and deaths – have all declined over the past five years. Motorcycle deaths have fluctuated from a low of 100 in 2016, a high of 147 in 2017 to 112 in 2018.

In 2018, 55 percent of motorcycle crashes involved another vehicle while 45 percent were single-motorcycle crashes. Motorcycle operators ages 21-44 were more likely to be involved in multiple-vehicle crashes while younger and older bikers were more likely to be involved in single-motorcycle crashes.

Among multiple-vehicle crashes, the biker was at fault in 40 percent of the time while the other driver was at fault for 58 percent:

The top unsafe actions motorcycle operators can avoid are following too closely, unsafe speed, improper passing and disregarding a signal or sign.

Top unsafe actions other vehicles can avoid are failure to yield right of way, unsafe backing and improper turning.

Get legal, get licensed

One of the best ways to avoid a motorcycle crash is to prepare for and pass the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles motorcycle skills and riding test or to successfully complete an approved motorcycle safety course. More information is at www.RideSafeIndiana.com.

According to IBMV, many more Indiana drivers (415,945) choose to obtain or keep a motorcycle endorsement on their license than there are registered motorcycles (230,107). But more than half of motorcycle operators who crashed in 2018 did not have a driver’s license or a motorcycle endorsement.

Helmet use

In Indiana, motorcyclists 18 or younger and those with a motorcycle learner’s permit are required to wear a helmet. Motorcyclists of all ages and abilities are less likely to be killed or injured if they wear helmets.

Helmet use rates are lower in crashes involving injuries and deaths and among motorcyclists ages 35-64. Men make up 85 percent of motorcyclists in crashes, but wear helmets at higher rates than females.

Driver tips

For Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, all drivers are urged to get up to speed on motorcycles as they operate differently than other vehicles. These are simple things all drivers can do for the safety of motorcyclists, who have very little protection in a crash.

• Look twice for motorcycles at intersections. It is harder to judge a motorcycle’s speed and distance due to its small size.

• Use a turn signal and check mirrors twice before changing lanes or merging with traffic. Almost 40 percent of a car is covered with blind spots.

• Allow more following distance. Motorcyclists may stop quicker than expected and don’t always use their brakes.

• Allow motorcycles the full lane width as they have the same right of way as any other vehicle.

• Never drive distracted or impaired.