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The fine line between an enjoyable ride and an ambulance ride

The wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, the smell of leather, and the open road in front of you, motorcycle season is in full swing. Unfortunately, so is motorcycle accident season.

I work at a hospital and in the last couple of months I’ve seen a big increase in patients who have suffered injuries from motorcycle accidents. So, I did a little research and found that there have been at least 14 individual motorcycle accidents since April, as reported by the State Journal Register.

I’m not the only one to notice the increase; the SJ-R has published two letters to the editor and an editorial on the subject.

In addition to these opinion pieces, in June, they published a story exploring the disturbing fact that motorcycle fatalities are on the rise in Springfield and it has only gotten worse, with at least four more deaths attributed to motorcycle accidents.

It is hard to pinpoint one main reason for motorcycle accidents but there are several factors that can cause a motorcyclist to lay down his or her bike. Failure to reduce speed, improper lane usage and alcohol are all factors contributing to accidents.

Whether it is the fault of the motorcyclist or motorist, when cars and bikes collide it can be deadly. However, there are steps bikers can follow to reduce their risk of injury should an accident happen.

First and foremost, never drink and ride. It is just as deadly for motorcyclists as it is for motorists.

Second, make sure you take the proper courses before hitting the road. Be licensed and take a motorcycle safety course.

Next, make sure you’re wearing the proper attire. Because bikes don’t have the protective shell cars do, bikers need to make sure their clothing protects them. Leather jackets and gloves, as well as thick jeans are suggested wear for riding. Don’t forget your boots either. Imagine the damage to someone’s feet if wearing flip-flops during a crash.

Helmets are a hotly debated item for motorcycle safety and, in the state of Illinois, there are no laws require a cyclist to wear one. Therefore, it is the motorcyclist’s preference. However, if you choose not to wear a helmet, make sure to wear protective eyewear. It wouldn’t be fun to get hit with a bug in the eye going 60 mph.

Finally, be alert and aware at all times. There is a large movement among cyclists to increase motorcycle visibility. I’m sure you’ve seen the yellow “start seeing motorcycles” stickers. That’s a two-way street. While motorists need to be more aware of bikes on the road, bikers need to increase their visibility using headlights, turn signals and hand signals. It is also helpful to be aware of cars’ blind spots and trying to stay out of them.

Motorcycles can be great fun. I remember being overjoyed when my grandpa would pick me up after school on his motorcycle. However, as much fun as they are to ride, it is important to do even the littlest of things to increase your safety. It only takes seconds to go from an enjoyable ride to an ambulance ride.

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