Drivers urged caution while sharing road with bikers

A total of 4,295 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2014, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

As spring brings sunnier skies and warmer temperatures, more bikers are out on the roadways.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – As spring brings sunnier skies and warmer temperatures, more bikers are out on the roadways.

The rules of the road haven’t changed — motorcyclists and bicyclists have to follow them like everybody else, including riding with traffic. Megan Stevens, co-owner of Youngstown Cycle Supply, said it is important for bikers to be aware of their surroundings.

“Other people may not be ready for you yet. You wanna make sure you keep your eyes open. Watch out for all that traffic out there,” she said. “People may not quite be ready to see all the bikes out, even though we’re ready to get out.”

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Commission, Ohio motorcyclists aren’t required to wear a helmet, unless they are under the age of 18 or hold a novice motorcycle operator’s license. In Pennsylvania, those over the age of 21 who have completed a motorcycle rider safety course and have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years are not required to wear a helmet.

Wearing a helmet is recommended, however, by the National Highway Transportation Safety Commission, which estimates they are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle drivers and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers.

First News has covered four motorcycle accidents in the last six months, including one in Vienna in November, when a motorcyclist was killed after his bike hit a truck. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

In October, another biker was critically injured when a truck changed lanes and collided with him.

Those in the biking business also recommend checking everything on the bike before taking a ride, including brakes, steering and tire pressure. A low tire on the road is similar to being on ice, says Jim Nadasky, owner of Youngstown Cycle Supply.

“What it does is it wiggles… so you lose your radius,” he said.

Often, the biker is doing everything correct, but another driver makes the mistake, such as when a car ran into a bike from behind in Warren last September, sending the biker up into the air and the bike into a mailbox.

Regardless of what a person is driving, it is important to have the right equipment, according to Tony Ricchiuti, co-owner of Outdoor Recreational Equipment.

“A bright taillight is always good to have,” he said. “Most accidents happen from behind in daylight hours.”

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