"Disheartening" is the comment one official of the Governors Highway Safety Administration offers in reaction to the number of motorcycle deaths on roads in Tennessee and across the country.
Motorcycles are becoming more and more common across the country, and with spring said to be here (though it might be hard to believe it by the weather forecasts in some states), we can be sure that the number of motorcyclists hitting the road is going to be on the rise. This puts a great deal of responsibility on us all to be more attentive and to drive defensively to reduce the chances of motorcycle accidents.
Failure to see motorcyclists is one of the leading causes of accidents involving riders. That's been proven to be the case in Tennessee and every other state. Motorcyclists inevitably end up suffering the worst in such incidents. They simply lack the kind of protection that's not only available in larger passenger vehicles and trucks, but is mandated by law.
It's a simple sign, not more than about 18 inches tall and 14 inches wide, but the message on it is a big one. Hopefully drivers in Memphis and other major Tennessee cities will get it and heed it. It says, simply, "LOOK TWICE. SAVE A LIFE." The image is of a person riding a motorcycle.
Freedom and independence are key tenets of our way of life in Tennessee. To the extent that we may be able to exercise our free will as human beings is at the heart of those values. Limits on that freedom have a way of sparking ire in some people. At the same time, sometimes limits are established under the aegis of the common good and the overall benefit to society.
If Marlon Brando were alive today, do you think he'd be riding a motorcycle? Keep in mind, he'd be 86 years old. Still, the reality is that on the roads of Tennessee and much of the rest of the world, the number of older motorcyclists is on the rise and so, too, is the number of them getting hurt when they're involved in motorcycle accidents.
With the arrival of the new year comes the opportunity to look back and find points of activity that deserve attention and improvement. For officials in the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the focus for the month has been on assessing the traffic fatalities resulting from car, truck and motorcycle accidents in 2012 with an eye toward reducing them in 2013.
The nation's largest Honda power sports dealership reportedly sold hundreds, perhaps thousands, of motorcycles and ATV's that may be defective or unsafe. What's more, federal regulators allegedly ignored whistleblower complaints and deferred to Honda corporate officials instead of investigating the dealership. Hundreds of Tennessee motorcyclists and ATV owners may still be riding around on an accident waiting to happen, according to an investigation by USA Today.
Tennessee motorcycle riders are having a bad year. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security says 97 motorcyclists have been killed this year, ten more than this time last year. May was an especially bad month. Fatal accidents spiked 31 percent over 2011.
Drivers and motorcyclists each have a responsibility to each other: Drivers, of course, should look out for motorcyclists, who can often be difficult to see, and it's also important that motorcyclists maintain control and don't speed.