Massachusetts Motorcyclists Need to be on the Lookout for Dangerous Drivers

A recent motorcycle accident in Milford, MA illustrates just how vulnerable motorcycle riders are to others on the road. According to police, the accident occurred while young Matt Denice was riding his motorcycle near Congress and Fayette Streets, when suddenly a 2004 black Ford pick-up truck ran a stop sign and hit Denice. For about a quarter of a mile, the pick-up drove on with Denice wedged in the wheel well. Witnesses watched helplessly until Denice's body became dislodged. The young man died from his injuries and the truck driver was arrested for a number of offenses, including vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Dangers of Motorcycling

Despite their popularity, motorcycles are certainly some of the most vulnerable vehicles on the road. Lacking metal trappings that provide cars and trucks protection, motorcycles are linked to nearly 10 percent of all traffic fatalities in America. Each year thousands of motorcyclists and their passengers die. In 2010, 56 people died on Massachusetts roadways from motorcycle crashes alone.

In Massachusetts, a number of statutes govern and promote safe operation of motorcycles. Helmets and other safety gear, such as eye protection, are required for on road operation of motorcycles. To obtain a Class M license, which is for motorcycles only, a person must be at least 16 years of age and must complete a road test or a Massachusetts Rider Education Program (MREP.) Laws covering off-road operation of motorcycles are different than on-road operation, however. These laws prohibit motorcycle operation by youth under 10 years of age, and supervision for those aged 10 to 14.

Riders and drivers alike contribute to motorcycle crashes. To reduce risks, motorcyclists must take precautions on and off the road, as many motorcycle accidents are preventable. Regularly checking equipment - such as mirrors, lights and signals - is just one step for safer riding. Obeying motorcycle operation and safety laws is another. Using protective gear helps reduce the risk of serious harm in the event of a crash, and having emergency items such as first aid kits, well charged cell phones and repair tools can help take care of minor problems and injuries.

Massachusetts also promotes several initiatives, which support motorcycle safety and awareness. For instance, there are annual Motorcycle Awareness campaigns, which promote driver awareness of motorcycles as everyday sharers of our nation's roadways.

For bikers, motorcycle safety is a matter of life or death. Self and bike awareness are important; however, improved motorist awareness and taking safety precautions is another way for them to enjoy the open road safely.