Texas motorcycle deaths spike

Texarkana

ATLANTA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Texas motorcycle deaths rose dramatically in 2020, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. 

Officials said that despite less traffic on the road last year and a 2% reduction in motorcycle crashes, there was a 17% increase in motorcycle fatalities in Texas compared to 2019.  On average, a motorcyclist is killed in a crash on Texas roads every day. Last year, 482 died. Motorcyclists account for 12% of all traffic fatalities statewide.

TxDOT officials add that with the weather warming up, this time of year is when most motorcycle fatalities happen. They want to remind motorists that even minor collisions can be catastrophic for bikers. “Anything that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, or your mind off of driving, that’s a distraction … pay attention to what you’re doing, always look twice when you’re at intersections, especially for motorcyclists,” said TxDOT spokesperson Marcus Sandifer.

Officials said motorcyclists account for 12% of all traffic fatalities statewide. 

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and TxDOT’s annual “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign is now underway to call attention to the safety precautions motorists can take to protect motorcyclists and themselves. In 2020, there were 7,481 motorcycle crashes in Texas.

“May through October is an especially dangerous period for motorcyclists in Texas,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Of all the motorcyclist deaths in Texas during 2020, more than 61% happened in that period.”

The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) reports that fatal crashes between motorcyclists and drivers often occur when drivers misjudge the motorcycle’s distance and speed, and make left turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist. Last year, almost one-third of Texas motorcycle fatalities occurred in an intersection or were intersection-related. TTI also points to driver inattention as a contributing factor to motorcycle crashes.

TxDOT has these safety tips for drivers to protect motorcyclists and prevent crashes:

  • Take extra care when making a left turn. It’s safest to let the motorcycle pass to avoid turning in front of the rider.
  • Pay special attention at intersections. Nearly one in three motorcycle fatalities happens at a roadway intersection.
  • Give driving your full attention. Even a momentary distraction, such as answering a phone call or changing the radio station, can have deadly consequences.
  • Look twice when changing lanes. Check mirrors, check blind spots, and always use turn signals.
  • Give motorcyclists room when passing them. Move over to the passing lane and don’t crowd the motorcyclist’s full lane.
  • Stay back. If you’re behind a motorcycle, always maintain a safe following distance. When a motorcyclist downshifts instead of applying the brake to slow down, it can catch drivers off guard since there are no brake lights to signal reduced speed.
  • Slow down. Obey posted speed limits and drive to conditions.

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