ROCHELLE PARK – Flanked by a sea of riders and riding instructors, state and federal officials marked the start of New Jersey’s Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month on Friday by unveiling its “Share the Road” public awareness campaign for 2011.
“Riders are everywhere, and in New Jersey alone, we have about 300,000,” said Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “They are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and grandparents and motorists need to safely share the road with them.”
“Not only should they share the road but all riders and motorists are also reminded to never drive distracted or drunk,” said Thomas M. Louizou, regional administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle drivers in the event of a crash,” said Robert Gaydosh, regional supervisor of the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety (HTS). “All motorists are reminded to safely share the road with motorcycles and to be alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe.”
Using dedicated federal motorcycle safety funds, the MVC has produced a 30-second commercial that is airing on NJ Network, Cablevision, YouTube and college-based television stations and a radio spot that is airing on 101.5, 1010 WINS, NJ Network-affiliated radio and radio stations operated by colleges. All of the promotional materials refer the viewer to the MVC’s motorcycle safety website www.njridesafe.org. The site provides a wealth of information for riders including safety tips, course locations statewide, proper equipment, guidance and valuable links.
As of March 5, there were 152,888 registered motorcycles in the State of New Jersey and 287,719 residents who possess either a motorcycle license or motorcycle endorsement on their basic driver license. In 2009, 63 motorcycle riders and four passengers lost their lives in motorcycle-related crashes in this state. The figures held steady in 2010.
According to a report issued by the Governors Highway Traffic Safety Association last month, annual motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled since the late 1990s and peaked in 2008 with 5,312 deaths. But when the economy was at its worst in 2009 and recreational riding declined, the death rate dropped a full 16 percent – leaving experts to question what will happen now as many are turning again to motorcycles as a way to beat costly gasoline prices.
“This campaign could not have come at a better time,” said Martinez. “The weather is getting warmer, gas prices are soaring and the economy is showing signs of rebounding,” he added. “It all adds up to a potentially dangerous mix for both riders and motorists.”
In addition to the radio and television spots, the federal motorcycle safety grant, which is administered by HTS, will be used to fund print ads on NJ Transit buses, tollbooths throughout the state and rest stops along the state’s major roads.
Gaydosh added that comprehensive traffic safety public awareness and education campaigns such as the one unveiled today are critical to helping to ensure the safety of all who use New Jersey’s roads.
“Today, we are reinforcing the critical, lifesaving message that we are all equal partners in ensuring safety on the roadways,” Gaydosh added. “Increasing public awareness about motorcycle safety will also help bring us closer to our goal of zero traffic fatalities – and nothing is more important than saving lives.”
Louizou stressed that safety is the top priority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“We encourage all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear full protective gear, including a DOT-compliant motorcycle helmet on every trip,” he said.
NHTSA reports show that motorcycle helmets saved the lives of 1,483 motorcyclists in 2009 alone.
The MVC presently oversees the New Jersey Motorcycle Safety Education Program, which regulates nine not-for-profit and for-profit providers throughout the state. Approximately 7,400 riders are trained annually through the program.
“By providing training opportunities for both new and experienced riders, we also add to the level of safety on our roadways,” Martinez said.
“Our program providers offer a very thorough review of every aspect of motorcycle safety,” added Martinez. “With course materials created by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, basic and experienced riders are instructed by true experts on a variety of important topics including proper riding gear, safe operation and basic skills.”
Martinez noted the foundation also publishes a helpful list of steps that both riders and motorists can take to help prevent accidents. The complete list can be found on the foundation’s website at www.msf-usa.org. For more information about New Jersey’s motorcycle safety efforts, visit www.njridesafe.org.
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