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Motorcycle deaths on the rise in Montana

Helena officials say that Montana's fatality rate from motorcycle accidents has nearly doubled since the same time last year. Law enforcement representatives say that fewer riders are wearing appropriate safety equipment, which is causing the heightened number of deaths. This year, the state has seen 13 motorcycle deaths. Last year, there were only eight fatalities by July.

Riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous because drivers are exposed to the elements, including other drivers, weather conditions and even the road itself. Furthermore, car and truck operators often fail to look for motorcycles, which can lead to gruesome accidents simply because of their inattention. As a result, officials say that riders who fail to wear their protective gear are increasing their odds of injury even more.

State transportation authorities say it is important for every motorcycle rider to gain additional protection by acquiring more experience in motorcycle riding classes. Educational opportunities through the Montana Motorcycle Safety Foundation can provide riders with extra skills they need to keep themselves and their passengers safe. Obtaining the endorsement on your driver's license, along with maintaining the registration and licensure of your cycle, are also strongly encouraged.

Although dirt bikes do not require an endorsement, officers say people who drive those vehicles on the road need to know how to properly control them.

Riders can also take additional safety precautions to keep themselves safe on Montana roads. The state requires that all motorcycles keep headlights on at all times, even during the day. This increases the cycle's visibility to other drivers, which can prevent collisions. Furthermore, it is important to remember that all riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet when they are on a motorcycle.

By taking these few simple precautions, you can prevent severe accidents that could lead to crippling disabilities or even death. Drivers in vehicles should also look carefully for motorcyclists at all times, a practice that can save even more lives. Although protective gear and correct operation of a motorcycle are important, the inattentiveness or negligent behavior of another driver often leads to an accident. In some of these cases, even the most experienced motorcyclist wearing the best protective gear may be injured or even killed.

Source: KPAX, "Motorcycle crash deaths nearly double so far in 2012," Melissa Anderson, July 20, 2012

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