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May recognized as Motorcycle Safety Awareness month
May 03, 2022
‘Motorcyclists are Hard to See. Look Twice. Save a Life.’ campaign begins
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recognized Motorcycle Safety Awareness month today, urging drivers to be aware of motorcyclists on the road in the coming months.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of motorcyclists we encounter on roadways, and especially at intersections,” said Secretary Benson. “‘Look Twice. Save a Life.’ is much more than a slogan. It’s a safe driving practice that must become second nature for all Michigan drivers.”
More than 7,000 motorcycle crashes with passenger vehicles occurred in Michigan between 2016 and 2020, causing many fatalities and serious injuries.
The “Look Twice. Safe a Life.” campaign encourages motorists to look a second time for motorcyclists when turning at intersections and to increase awareness that crashes are most common on city streets, not highways. The 2022 campaign officially kicked off as part of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s declaration of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
That sentiment means a lot to Lansing resident and crash survivor Carolyn Abel.
Abel, 60, who has been a motorcyclist for over 25 years, was seriously injured while riding on Memorial Day in 2009. The crash happened a little after 9 p.m. on N. East Street on Lansing’s north side. She was traveling at 45 mph when a car exiting a restaurant pulled out in front of her. With no time to swerve or even apply brakes, she hit the side of the car and flipped over twice before landing on the pavement, shattering the bones in her right arm. Even after multiple surgeries, she still suffers from the lingering effects of her injuries, including the limited use of her right shoulder due to arthritis and scar tissue.
“Awareness is everything,” Abel said. “This campaign is so important because drivers need to realize we’re out there on the roads with them, and we’re the most vulnerable. We need to remind older drivers to pay attention, but it’s even more imperative that we reach younger drivers so they can develop and carry forward safe driving habits.”
This year’s campaign features billboard, social media, radio and digital video advertising with two main messages:
- 84 percent of crashes occur on streets, not highways — Most drivers believe crashes are more likely on highways. However, crashes between motorcyclists and motorists actually occur most often on major roads with speed limits of 35-55 mph.
- Look twice for motorcyclists at intersections — Half of motorcyclist crashes involving other vehicles happen at intersections. Motorcyclists can be difficult to see in heavy traffic because of their smaller profile, and motorists turning at an intersection may fail to see an approaching rider coming from any direction.
Since the start of the campaign in 2019, there has been a 27 percent increase in drivers who report they always look twice for motorcyclists before making a turn, according to a survey commissioned by the Michigan Department of State. Drivers 18-29 years old saw the greatest gain, with a 52 percent increase in looking twice before turns.
While safety messaging will be promoted statewide, the campaign will particularly focus on Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, where 43 percent of motor vehicle driver and motorcyclist crashes in Michigan between 2016 and 2020 occurred.
Funding for the campaign comes from the Motorcycle Safety and Education Awareness Fund, which was created by the Michigan Legislature in 2017. The fund is financed by $2.50 from each original motorcycle endorsement and $2 from each motorcycle endorsement renewal. The law that created the fund mandated that the secretary of state create and maintain a “look twice – safe a life” program that promotes motorcycle awareness, safety and education.
“This campaign is what we’ve been fighting for,” said Michael Olinger, a member of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Michigan, the group that spearheaded the 2017 legislation.
“It’s not just about informing motorcyclists about the dangers of common accidents, but drivers of vehicles as well.”
More information about the campaign is available at Michigan.gov/LookTwice
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