Associated Press - April 17, 2009 7:15 AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state is revving up a campaign to stop the rise in motorcycle deaths on Ohio roads.
Officials say crashes last year killed 214 people riding motorcycles in Ohio, up 56% from 2002. Fatalities involving cars and trucks fell 24% over that same period.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety on Thursday launched Ride Smart, an awareness effort urging motorcyclists to be alert, wear a helmet, have a valid motorcycle license and not drink and ride.
The state also is reminding car and truck drivers to do their part and share the road with bikers.
Public Safety Director Henry Guzman knows from personal experience about the dangers for motorcyclists. He says his son has a metal plate in one hand from colliding a motorcycle into a pickup truck.
From the Ohio Traffic Safety Office
Motorcycle fatalities have increased 35 percent over the last three years on Ohio's roads. With the beginning of another riding season, the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) is kicking off a new campaign to reverse that trend.
Motorcycle Ohio (MO), part of ODPS' Ohio Traffic Safety Office, gathered with partners to kick off the Ride SMART motorcycle safety campaign, which will work to address all aspects of motorcycle safety including: Ride Sober. Ride Motorcycle Endorsed. Ride Alert. Use the Right Gear. Ride Trained. (SMART)
"We have seen a downward trend in overall fatalities on Ohio's roads," said ODPS Director Henry Guzmán. "While this is positive, it is extremely concerning that motorcycle fatalities have increased. We must work to address areas that have seen increases in deaths and injuries to ensure we are keeping as many people as possible safe on Ohio's roads."
Partners of the Ride SMART campaign will reach out to as many motorcyclists and motorists as possible to remind them that everyone plays a critical role in motorcycle safety. MO is working with state and local partners (including the city of Columbus, Ohio State University, ODOT, the American Motorcyclist Association, American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE), law enforcement and other safety partners) to get the message out to riders and motorists alike. MO and its partners will be working to continue these messages across the state during the entire riding season.
Components of the campaign include: distributing materials with safety messages at bars and establishments that host "Bike Nights," working with local law enforcement and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to identify areas to host additional training courses, piloting a motorcycle training course taught in Spanish, airing public service announcements with safety messages directed toward motorists and motorcyclists, funding high-visibility enforcement to discourage high-risk behaviors like drinking and riding, and working with as many partners as possible to get the word out to share the road and Ride SMART.