Public safety officials urge motorists to look twice for motorcycles | Local News

Sunny days are made for relaxing outside, playing catch with the kids or even taking a nice drive through the beautiful scenery of Utah.

But motorists aren’t the only ones climbing out of hibernation. Motorcyclists are also being seen more frequently on the roads, and Utah Highway Patrol wants motorists to do a double take for motorcycles.

“Drivers are not used to seeing motorcycles out on the road, especially with the winter,” said Marques Varela, program manager with the Department of Public Safety. “The riders are coming out, they haven’t been riding all winter, so right now, it’s especially pertinent that all the drivers are looking twice for motorcycles.”

The Department of Public Safety held a press conference Tuesday morning at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City to discuss safety around motorcycles and how to put an end to motorcycle fatalities.

In 2017 alone there have already been five motorcycle fatalities in Utah, with the most recent being this past weekend in Saratoga Springs.

In 2016, there were 41 motorcycle fatalities, the second-worst year for motorcycle fatalities on Utah record. There were also 1,175 crashes involving motorcycles in 2016. Nearly a third of drivers who hit motorcycles were turning left.

“The biggest thing is that left turn,” said Sgt. Donavan Lucas with Utah Highway Patrol. “Look twice to make sure you’re actually yielding to the motorcyclist.”

The Department of Public Safety also announced Tuesday the installation of several billboards along Interstate 15 reminding motorists to look twice for motorcycles. The billboards are unique in that the average motorist will have to actually look twice to see the motorcyclist cut-out on the billboard.

But motorcycle safety is a two-way street. Approximately 45 percent of motorcycle crashes did not involve another vehicle, and safety officials want to see fewer instances of motorcyclists losing control.

Terry Dammer, a motorcycle instructor at Hill Air Force Base, teaches courses on motorcycle safety and riding, courses he feels are always applicable and can always be revisited by veterans and new riders alike.

“Get your skills honed up. If you have to, go to a parking lot or something and ride your bike,” Dammer said. “And take a refresher safety course. It’s well worth the money. The course saves lives.”

Dammer said the tips he learned from the safety course saved his life decades ago when a car pulled in front of him and he had to maneuver into oncoming traffic to save his life. Though he still went down, fractured his wrist and lost layers of skin, he’s grateful it didn’t end worse.

“Motorcyclists have to be aware and motorists need to have that motorcycle mentally,” he said.

Motorcycles are typically more agile, can stop and accelerate faster, and can maneuver through traffic easier than…

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