Posted: Jul 20, 2012 9:37 AM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News
Updated: Jul 20, 2012 9:56 AM
HELENA- Motorcycle safety is in the spotlight after several recent fatalities in Montana. The number of motorcycle crashes and deaths has nearly doubled compared to last year at this time.
There were eight motorcycles deaths in Montana by July in 2011, and already this year we have seen 13 deaths, with three of those deaths right here in Lewis & Clark County.
While speed and alcohol can be contributing factors to those deaths, not wearing protective gear is another. People under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet.
"The correct protective gear is vital to trying to ensure that if something does happen, if something does go haywire, you'll have as much opportunity to survive and come through it as possible," Kristine Thatcher of the Motor Vehicle Division of the MT Department of Justice noted.
"Any motorcycle you ride on the street has to be legally licensed. After that you have to have a motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license...part of that is taking a riding course and a written test," Corporal Jayson Zaner of the Helena Police Department explained.
"However if a rider takes and passes a basic rider course with the Montana Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the skills test is waived with the state," added Thatcher.
"Another important law is that the headlight always has to be on day and night on motorcycles. That's to help visibility and help people see you much better," Zander continued.
There are currently nearly 81,000 street registered motorcycles in Montana. However there are just over 76,000 that have endorsed drivers
While a dirt bike doesn't require an endorsement, a rider needs to have the necessary skills to control it.
Thatcher says taking a motorcycle course is valuable not just for the rider, but for the rest of the public on the roadways.
"There's so much speed and so much power and people need to understand and respect and know how to safely handle that." said Thatcher.
Click here to learn more about motorcycle safety and training.