The Texas Department of Transportation says the number of motorcycle riders killed on Texas roadways spiked in 2020.
TxDOT said 2,300 motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured on Texas streets and highways in 2020. Of the nearly 7,500 crashes involving motorcycles that were reported in 2020, 482 were fatalities -- a 17% increase over the year before.
With May being National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, TxDOT is urging drivers to "look twice" before turning or making lane changes as part of their annual "Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles" campaign.
"May through October is an especially dangerous period for motorcyclists in Texas," said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. "Of all the motorcyclist deaths in Texas during 2020, more than 61% happened in that period. It's so important to remember that these motorcyclists don't have the same protections that drivers in vehicles have, and that's why we're urging all motorists to stay watchful and alert when traveling alongside motorcycles so everyone can reach their destination safely."
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The Irving Police Department made a similar plea last month after a motorcycle officer was seriously injured when he was struck by a driver who turned in front of him.
The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) reported that fatal crashes between motorcyclists and drivers often occur due to drivers misjudging the motorcycle's distance and speed and make left turns in front of an approaching motorcyclist.
In 2020, almost one-third of Texas motorcycle fatalities occurred in an intersection or were intersection-related. TTI also points to driver inattention as a contributing factor to motorcycle crashes.
TxDOT has these safety tips for drivers to protect motorcyclists and prevent crashes:
- Take extra care when making a left turn, it's safest to let the motorcycle pass to avoid turning in front of the rider
- Pay special attention at intersections, nearly one in three motorcycle fatalities happens at a roadway intersection
- Give driving your full attention, even a momentary distraction, such as answering a phone call or changing the radio station, can have deadly consequences
- Look twice when changing lanes. Check mirrors, check blind spots, and always use turn signals
- Give motorcyclists room when passing them. Move over to the passing lane and don't crowd the motorcyclist's full lane
- Stay back, If you're behind a motorcycle, always maintain a safe following distance
- When a motorcyclist downshifts instead of applying the brake to slow down, it can catch drivers off guard since there are no brake lights to signal reduced speed
- Slow down and obey posted speed limits and drive to conditions
The "Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles" campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, which is broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel such as wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Nov. 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways.