As the Labor Day holiday marks the official end of summer, people around the country will celebrate one more pool party, backyard barbecue or community get-together. For the sake of the drivers safety – and everyone else’s – it’s essential that motorcyclists (and all motorists) practice safe riding habits. Perhaps the most important safety habit is sober riding. This Labor Day, and every day, remember: Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over. Operating a motorcycle requires an enhanced level of focus, coordination and balance. Compromising skills by drinking alcohol and riding can be a deadly decision – one that puts not only the driver at risk, but the lives of other road users as well. For those planning on drinking at all, leave the motorcycle out of the plan. Designate a sober rider, or make arrangements for a safe ride home and a place to store the motorcycle before any alcohol is imbibed. Keep these drunk-driving statistics in mind when riding through the last of summer’s parties:
• This Labor Day weekend, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the national Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign to help keep impaired motorcyclists off the road. The campaign runs Aug. 17 through Sept. 3, 2018.
• According to NHTSA, in 2016, there were 5,286 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes – a 5.1 percent increase from the 5,029 motorcyclists killed in 2015.
• In 2016, two-wheeled motorcycles accounted for 93 percent of all motorcycles in fatal crashes.
• Even though motorcycles account for only about 3 percent of registered vehicles on the road, motorcycle riders are dramatically overrepresented in fatal crashes, especially those involving alcohol.
• In 2016, motorcycle riders involved (killed and survived) in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment than any other type of motor vehicle driver (25% for motorcycle riders, 21% for passenger cars, 20% for light-truck drivers, and 2% for drivers of large trucks).
• In 2016, the highest percentage of fatally injured, alcohol-impaired motorcycle riders were in the 35 to 39 age group (38%), followed by the 45 to 49 age group (37%), and the 40 to 44 age group (32%).
• In 2016, there were 4,950 motorcycle riders killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
• In 2016, the reported helmet use rate for alcohol-impaired motorcycle riders killed in traffic crashes was 50 percent, as compared to 65 percent for those with no alcohol consumed (BAC=.00 g/dL).
• Always practice general motorcycle safety: Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and protective clothing, never ride while distracted, be properly licensed and don’t speed.
Ride with a Plan
Don’t let plans get away – it’s imperative to the driver’s safety, and the safety of others, to plan a responsible ride home from the party. If people leave their house unprepared to get home safely, they may not be in the right frame of mind to make the best choices by the end of the night. Here are a few tips to help prepare for a safe night of fun:
• Remember that it is never okay to drink and ride. Even if only one alcoholic beverage has been imbibed, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely.
• Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices: (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nhtsa.SaferRide&hl=en), and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/saferride/id950774008?mt=8). SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
• Use your community’s sober ride program.
• If there is a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
• Have a friend who is about to drink and ride? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get the friend home safely.
Drunk Driving Comes at a Cost
Drunk driving can cost a life, but it also has financial costs. Here’s how:
• If caught drinking and driving, the driver could face jail time.
• The cost of a DUI can reach $10,000. Don’t risk it.
More information about motorcycle safety can be found at: www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles.