Motorcycle Safety a Major Concern This Time of Year - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Motorcycle Safety a Major Concern This Time of Year

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Problems like potholes, puddles, and salt and sand still on the streets are facts of life for everyone on QCA roads this time of year.

But, for motorcyclists heading out to finally enjoy the nice weather, those problems can be real dangers.

"It's been a long winter as we all know and the first time out of the year is always the most crucial time and the most dangerous time," said Jeff Hoker, District 15 Coordinator for ABATE of Iowa, a motorcycle rights and safety organization.

"You hit a big pothole and you're done," he said.

Hoker has had to hold off on heading out for his first ride this year because there is still too much water on the roads around his home.

"On a car with four wheels, it could throw a car into hydroplane. On a bike, it's twice as bad, you've got two wheels. You know, it could put a bike down in an awful big hurry there too," he explained.

Hoker says being aware of your surroundings is critical.

"The biggest advice is just be careful," he said, "Take more precautions, it's early in the year, don't be in a hurry."

One big piece of safety advice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is to wear a helmet.

Although Iowa and Illinois do not require you to wear a helmet by law, it can mean the difference between life and death in a crash.

In 2011, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 132 motorcycle fatalities in Illinois, and about three quarters of those people were not wearing helmets.

Of the 32 motorcycle fatalities in that year in Iowa, 94 percent were riding without helmets.

Iowa and Illinois are among three states in the country that do not have laws requiring helmets. Hoker said it is each rider's right to decide what they want to do.

"If somebody wants to wear a helmet of course, that's completely up to them," he said.

It's up to everyone on the roads to look out for each other.

After so many months without seeing a motorcycle on the road, many drivers aren't used to having to look.

That said, awareness is a two-way street.

"We've got to play this game equally," Hoker said. "If we're watching for you and you're watching for us, it's a much safer place to ride."

The local chapters of ABATE often host awareness and safety classes.

This weekend, ABATE will be leading a "two-wheeled trauma" course for area EMTs to help them better respond to motorcycle accidents when they do occur.

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