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A 19-year-old Mount Airy man was killed May 27 after losing control of his motorcycle on westbound Interstate 70, sliding across the road surface and into a guardrail. A 37-year-old died in August, 2018 when the motorcycle he was driving, headed north on Francis Scott Key Highway, struck a truck towing an equipment trailer that was making a left turn. A motorcyclist succumbed to injuries June 18, 2017 after he was involved in a collision with an SUV on Londontown Boulevard in Eldersburg. And, on a particularly tragic May 12, 2015, a 30-year-old Sykesville motorcyclist was killed after a crash with an SUV that was making a left turn onto northbound Md. 32 in Howard County in the early evening while a 49-year-old Westminster man died as a result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash late that night on Lucabaugh Mill Road in Westminster after failing to navigate a curve.

The above listing of fatal crashes involving motorcycles written about in the Times over the past few years is, sadly, not complete. Fatal motorcycle crashes in Maryland rose to an eight-year high in 2017 as 82 people lost their lives, up from 73 in 2016 and 72 in 2015. While motorcycles make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles, motorcyclists make up about 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to data from the National Safety Council. Fatalities occur 28 times more often in collisions involving motorcycles than those of passenger vehicle occupants, based on per mile traveled, according to a report released in 2018 by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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Monday was National Ride to Work Day and the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office and Maryland State Police used the occasion to remind motorcyclists of two programs designed to help reduce crashes and fatalities and to help the state’s 283,000 registered motorcyclists stay safe on the road.

According to an MDOT news release, BikeSafe Maryland provides motorcycle riders with free skills assessments and valuable feedback from officers with the Maryland State Police Motorcycle Unit, Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police and local police departments. Riders learn techniques promoting motorcycle control, collision avoidance and overall safety. The program is open to all motorcyclists with a valid motorcycle license or learner’s permit. Visit bikesafemd.com for information or to enroll in a free BikeSafe session.

Another program sponsored by the highway safety office promotes sober riding by placing PODS storage units at restaurants where motorcyclists can store their bikes for free if they have too much to drink. One of the PODS units is located at Full Moon Pub and Grill in Reisterstown. To use one of the PODS® units, riders can contact a restaurant employee who will unlock the unit and gather information to verify ownership the following day. The employee will then help arrange a safe ride home for the motorcyclist. “One out of three motorcycle-involved fatal crashes are attributed to an impaired rider,” Chrissy Nizer, MDOT MVA administrator is quoted as saying in the news release.

Drivers of automobiles also need to play a role. As the weather improves and more riders take their motorcyles on the road, drivers of cars, trucks and SUVs should be extra vigilant, looking twice before changing lanes or merging because motorcycles can often be missed in blind spots of mirrors and windows because of their smaller size.

To learn more about the highway safety office’s Toward Zero Deaths campaign, visit towardzerodeathsmd.com.

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