Chopper Concerns: New Plan Aims To Prevent Deadly Motorcycle Accidents

ELKRIDGE, Md. (WJZ) — A spike in motorcycle crashes. Deadly accidents are way up in Maryland, and the state’s launching a major effort to stop the trend.

Kai Jackson talks to motorcyclists about the new plan.

Riders we spoke with say they applaud and welcome the state’s new safety initiatives.

Willie McGee has been riding a motorcycle for years. He and other bikers like to hang out at Daniel’s motorcycle bar in Elkridge, Howard County.

Like many bikers, he’ll never forget the first time he had a wreck.

“I had my first accident the first month after I got my bike. Four-way intersection, young 18-year-old driver,” he said.

A new report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association says in 2012, 75 motorcyclists were killed in accidents in Maryland.

“Highway’s not that big of a deal, but on the roads where you know the speed limit is 35, 40 miles an hour, you need to chill,” said Ed Polley, motorcyclist.

The report says 1,500 people were hurt in motorcycle related accidents. That’s why the state has launched a program called “Share the Road,” an effort to reduce motorcycle crashes and deaths.

The state says it wants bikers and drivers to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly.

“Motorcycle riders should always choose riding gear to increase their visibility, as well as protect them in case of a crash,” said Sgt. Marc Black, Maryland State Police.

“As a rider, you’re responsible for yourself. You have to make sure you’re aware of everything around you at all times,” said Terri Stellwagen, Daniel’s Restaurant & Bar.

Overall, traffic deaths in Maryland overall are down 23 percent, but state officials say the number of motorcycle deaths is up 20 percent.

Law-abiding motorcyclists blame some of the bikers with so-called “high speed crotch rockets” for reckless riding.

“The bikes are faster. They’re more maneuverable and it makes guys feel they’re invincible and you’re not. It can get away from you that quick and that’s when accidents happen,”  said Wood Marson, motorcyclist.

The state says throughout the riding season, there will be billboards, highway signs, radio and web advertisements reminding riders and drivers alike of the “Share the Road” message.

The MVA offers voluntary motorcycle training courses for new riders over 18. For riders under 18, courses are required.

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