Bakersfield police rev up for motorcycle safety patrols

Bakersfield police rev up for motorcycle safety patrols
A 22-year-old man is killed June 20, 2011, after crashing his motorcycle into a call box and sign on Highway 99 just north of Bakersfield.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Bakersfield police will focus their attention this week on motorcycle safety.

Officers will patrol areas Friday frequented by motorcyclists and where motorcycle crashes occur. Officers will be looking especially for traffic violations and for people driving under the influence, according to the police department.

California experienced a 10-year surge in motorcycle fatalities, jumping from 204 killed in 1998 to 560 killed in 2008. Fatalities have since dropped, and police said they hope to continue the safety trend.

Collision data reveals the primary causes of motorcycle crashes are speeding, unsafe turning, and impairment due to alcohol and other drugs, the police department said.

Motorcycle safety tips ...

for car drivers:

  • Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Don't be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle - motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off.
  • Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
  • Never drive while distracted.

for motorcyclists:

  • Position yourself in the lane where you will be most visible to other drivers.
  • Never ride while impaired.
  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet.
  • Use the motorcycle's turn signals.
  • Use both hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention.
  • Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
  • Wear brightly colored protective gear.
  • Use reflective tape and stickers to increase visibility.