Monday, June 18, 2007
MD MC Awareness Campaign
A motorcycle advocacy group has begun a grassroots campaign to make drivers more aware of motorcycles on the road.Pairing public service announcements with bright yellow signs bearing the slogan “Look For Motorcycles” posted in private yards along roads around the state, ABATE — A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments, which fights restrictive legislation impacting motorcyclists — hopes to decrease the number of fatalities caused by inattentive drivers.The campaign was launched in memory of Marty Schultz, the former state director of ABATE who was killed last August when an negligent driver violated Schultz’s right of way while he was riding his motorcycle.Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said accidents involving motorcycles are definitely a bigger problem during the summer.“The weather’s nicer, so you see more [motorcycles] on the road,” Gischlar said. In 2006, crashes involving motorcycles in Maryland resulted in 87 fatalities.“We’re trying to get that number down to zero,” Gischlar said.Maryland SHA Spokeswoman Lora Rakowski said that in more than two-thirds of crashes involving both cars and motorcycles, the driver of the vehicle is at fault, usually because he or she didn’t see the motorcycle. Because motorcycles are smaller, they are often harder to see, but Rakowski said that wearing bright colors, reflective gear and riding with your headlights on are ways for motorcyclists to increase their visibility.“Wearing all black and traveling at night is not a good idea,” Rakowski said. But safety is a two-way street, she said, adding that it is important for other drivers to be respectful of motorcyclists and courteous toward them while sharing the road.ABATE State Director Neal Ackerson said that drivers tailgating motorcyclists is a problem he often sees on the roads, and experienced recently himself while riding his motorcycle home to Southern Maryland from Cumberland.“This driver almost came into the back of me — he shouldn’t have been that close,” Ackerson said.Ackerson hopes that the yellow signs will remind drivers to keep an eye out and prevent more tragic crashes from occurring.