As Spring arrives, so do the motorcycles

March 23, 2010

With warmer temperatures and sunny skies around the corner, the number of motorcycles on the roadway grows. 

The Washington State Patrol strongly suggests that motorists keep special watch for motorcycles.  For example, when stopping at stop signs, check twice before proceeding.

“With the increased number of motorcyclists on the road comes the potential for more motorcycle collisions,” said WSP Captain Ken Ginnard.

The WSP recommends that riders watch for road construction, traffic congestion and surrounding vehicles.  It’s a sentiment shared by Department of Licensing motorcycle safety technical specialist Tom Fite.

“Always be alert for sudden changes in traffic and keep a margin of safety around you,” Fite said.

Motorcycle collision data show that approximately 60-percent of motorcycle fatalities are single-vehicle incidents.  The most common causes of these incidents are excessive speed, impaired driving and the inability to stay in the lane of travel.

“Whether it’s your first ride of the season or you ride frequently, be mentally prepared,” Fite said. “Challenge yourself to sharpen your riding skills. If you are aware of any bad riding habits you have, now is the time to make a decision to change.”

The DOL and WSP require that motorcyclists be properly trained, always ride with their headlights on and that they wear bright clothing and proper safety equipment, including a DOT-certified helmet.  Riders must also have the proper motorcycle endorsement.


Wearing an illegal motorcycle helmet could come at a price

March 14, 2010

by Kyle McCarty

Do you know about the change in Washington’s motorcycle helmet law that went into effect last year?  If not, be advised:  Wearing an illegal helmet may not only compromise your safety, it could also take a chunk out of your wallet.

The ticket for wearing an illegal helmet?  $124.

Aiming to reduce the number of fatalities among motorcyclists, the Washington State Patrol is looking for riders wearing illegal helmets.

Helmet laws have been created to increase the safety of motorcycle riders and passengers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal motorcycle crashes have risen 50-percent since the late ’90s.

The “DOT” seal of approval is something to look for when shopping for motorcycle helmets.  Not all helmets have one.  A helmet with a DOT symbol means you have a high-quality motorcycle helmet that complies with US Department of Transportation construction standards.

On July 26th, 2009, Washington state revised its helmet law to reflect the federal motor vehicle standardWashington’s law now includes the following:

For purposes of this section, “motorcycle helmet” means a protective covering for the head consisting of a hard outer shell, padding adjacent to and inside the outer shell, and a neck or chin strap type retention system, with the manufacturer’s certification applied in accordance with 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.218 indicating that the motorcycle helmet meets standards established by the United States department of transportation.

Simply stated, DOT helmets are much safer than novelty helmets.  Think you know the differences between a DOT helmet and a novelty one?  Check-out this pamphlet (pdf / 3.9 MB) to make certain that you do.  After all, it might not only save you money.  It could save your life.

For more information about this important topic, please click here.