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Technology, training improve SoCal motorcycle safety

May 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The long Memorial Day Weekend will be a busy one on California roads. And the weather should be great for motorcycle enthusiasts. Here's what you can do to increase motorcycle safety.

Southern California's combination of mild climate and heavy traffic make it a popular place for motorcycles. Unfortunately, with motorcycle popularity comes motorcycle crashes, which have been increasing nationally. Safety experts say that's mostly a result of more miles traveled on two wheels.

"We've got more people riding now, maybe for transportation needs," said Tim Buche, Motorcycle Safety Foundation. "We've got more people riding that didn't even plan to ride. Still, only 50 percent of the people riding a motorcycle on the streets and highways of today have ever taken a formal training course."

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation says training is a big part of rider safety. Whether a beginner, or a rider with many miles in the saddle, drills at a safety class can go a long way.

Students are also taught the importance of wearing proper safety gear.

Collisions between cars and motorcycles often mean the motorcycle rider gets injured -- or killed. When police and insurance companies investigate accidents afterward, car drivers will frequently say, "I didn't see the motorcycle."

Some of today's cars are helping drivers thanks to blind-spot detection systems. A driver might not see the rider off his left shoulder, but a flashing indicator light next to the mirror gives a heads-up.

Technology in cars is making it safer for motorcyclists out on the road. But motorcycles are getting technology too, to keep the riders on them safer. More and more newer bikes are equipped with anti-lock brakes, for example.

And perhaps in the future, even more technology being studied today.

"Cars and motorcycles that talk to each other, automatically sharing data that will, in a sense, be able to 'see' over hills, around buildings and other obstructions, and help avoid crashes," said Ty van Hooydonk, Motorcycle Industry Council.

In the meantime, car drivers should be aware of riders in traffic and resist distractions -- for everyone's sake.

"You're not hitting a vehicle, you're hitting a person. And that would live with you for a long, long time," said Buche.


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