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MoDOT urges drivers to watch for motorcyclists as warmer weather arrives

Posted at 10:05 PM, May 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-05 23:42:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the days get warmer, more motorcyclists are out on the roads, so the Missouri Department of Transportation urges everyone to take extra care and be aware.

According to MoDOT, 115 people died in motorcycle crashes last year in Missouri.

"We want that number to be zero," MoDOT Public Information Officer Markl Johnson said.

Johnson said awareness of the vehicles around you is the best way to avoid getting a crash with a motorcycle.

"One of the biggest misconceptions is they can see me, the motorcycle rider can see me, but that's one of the biggest issues is there's always that blind spot," Johnson said. "You never know where they are and you never know if they see you."

Checking your mirrors constantly and making sure to check blind spots, especially before changing lanes, is vital.

"Always give a motorcycle rider the full width of the lane," Johnson said. "Give them that space so if they have to make a sudden move, they have that clearance."

Jason Smith, an avid motorcycle rider from Belton, hope all drivers hear the message.

"You always want to make sure you try to position yourself where they can see you or they know you're there," he said.

Even though Smith has only been riding his motorcycle for a year, he's seen the risks first hand.

"I've definitely had a few near-death experiences, where people just don't pay attention and they'll just come right over even if they are right next to you," Smith said. "They can just literally look at you, see that you're there, and they just pull into your lane. It can be very scary."

With increasing distractions for drivers, such as texting, Smith hopes people will put the phones down and be alert in order to make roads safer for motorcyclists.

"You have to be very defensive, because there's a lot of people that do not pay attention whatsoever," Smith said. "They're busy texting or on a phone call or just not paying attention, so you always want to make sure you try to position yourself where they can see you or they know you're there."

MoDOT also wants motorcyclists to have their headlights on at all times, which makes it easier for drivers to see them. State law also requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet.

There were at least four serious crashes involving motorcycles this weekend in the Kansas City area, including fatal crashes in Daviess County, Missouri; near Eudora, Kansas; and Miami County, Kansas.