FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
SAFETY STRESSED FOR MOTORCYCLISTS ON THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER
Recent Fatalities Highlight the Need for Safety and Education
To mark the first day of summer and the large number of motorcycles on the roads during the summer months, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala held a press conference in Colonie today to draw attention to an increasing number of crashes, injuries and fatalities among motorcyclists. Also present at the event were Captain Leonard Casper and Lieutenant Jim Halvorsen from the New York State Police, Executive Deputy Commissioner Stanley Gee from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Motorcycle Safety Program Manager Chris Connelly and American Motorcyclist Association District 3 President Mike Kuban.
"This time of year we see an increased number of motorcycles and motorcycle accidents on our roadways," said Commissioner Fiala who also serves as Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). "We want motorists to watch for motorcycles and share the roadways safely with them. We also want motorcyclists to be prepared, be safe and responsible on the roads, and take advantage of all the training opportunities and refresher courses that are offered to them."
There are more than 655,000 licensed motorcyclists and more than 340,000 registered motorcycles on New York's roads. In the past ten years alone, licenses have increased by 28 percent and registrations by 76 percent. With this surge, New York has seen an upward trend in motorcycle crashes. In the span of six days earlier this month, there were eight motorcycle fatalities on New York's roadways.
In 2009, there were nearly 5,400 motorcycle crashes in New York State. 182 motorcyclists died on New York roads in 2010. In general, motorcyclists are thirty-seven times more likely to die in a crash than an automobile driver.
"The New York State Police is committed to improving highway safety through education and aggressive enforcement of the vehicle and traffic law," said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico. "As the number of motorcyclists continues to increase, we remind motorcyclists to obey speed limits, use designated lanes, don't operate under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and to utilize proper motorcycle safety equipment, including federally approved helmets."
"We design and maintain our transportation infrastructure with an eye toward safety for all users, including motorcyclists," said New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald. "The State Department of Transportation encourages all drivers to watch for and be courteous to motorcyclists so that everyone can enjoy the roads safely this summer."
"The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has five important messages for all current and prospective motorcyclists," said New York State Motorcycle Safety Program Manager Chris Connelly. "We want them to remember to get trained and licensed, wear protective gear all the time, ride unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs, ride within your own skill limits, and finally to be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider courses."
"The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) fully supports rider education programs for both new and experienced riders," said AMA District 3 President Mike Kuban. "Rider education provides motorcyclists with the tools needed to operate a motorcycle in a safe and responsible manner. Equally important is the need for other motorists to be aware of motorcyclists while driving, and especially when making left turns. The number one cause of motorcycle crashes is vehicles turning left across the path of oncoming riders."
In 2010, more than 15,000 students were trained in the Basic RiderCourse statewide. The course is a 15-hour training program including classroom and on-motorcycle instruction. It is designed for beginner and re-entry riders and allows them to learn or review basic rider skills.
Since the DMV began offering the road test waiver benefit in 1996, almost 120,000 motorcyclists have taken the Basic Rider Course in New York State. Nearly half of all new motorcycle licenses issued in 2010 were earned by completing the Basic RiderCourse.
In the summer of 2010, the DMV completed a DVD entitled "Learning is For Life". The 5-minute video was produced for the Department in cooperation with the GTSC with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is intended for use by traffic safety professionals, traffic safety boards, law enforcement, motorcycle rider organizations, motorcycle dealerships and other organizations that interact with motorcyclists on a regular basis. This network will be able to screen the video at public events as part of traffic safety initiatives and other venues where motorcyclists can be reached and encouraged to enroll in rider education.
Jim Ziobrowski, Nick Capra and Dean Splittgerber from Spitzie's Motorcycle Center in Albany were on hand at today's event and received the GTSC 'Partners for Safety' award on behalf of his and Spitzie's contributions to the 'Learning is for Life' video.
More information can be found by visiting the DMV's web site at www.dmv.ny.gov or the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee web site at www.safeny.ny.gov. The ‘Learning is For Life’ video can be viewed at www.nysmsp.org .
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