String of crashes is renewed call for motorcycle safety - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

String of crashes is renewed call for motorcycle safety

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -

In the past two weeks, four people have died in motorcycle crashes here in eastern Iowa.  And Sunday, a crash sent a moped driver to the hospital.  Those crashes are an important reminder about the need for motorcycle safety.

On a beautiful afternoon, the streets of Independence are filled with motorcycles.  While the two-wheelers are a lot of fun, all too often, they're also involved in serious crashes.  In fact, the Iowa Department of Transportation estimates there are around 1,000 motorcycle crashes each year, almost all with injuries, and averaging *50 deaths.

"We never like to hear about accidents.  Nobody does," said James "Bulldog" Will, with A Brotherhood Aimed At Education, or ABATE.

That's why ABATE strongly emphasizes the need for everyone to share the road.

"Basically just watch out for the other person.  And if you're driving a vehicle, you know, we're smaller.  So watch out for motorcycles," Will said.

Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear protective gear, ranging from leather gloves and jackets during the day to reflective colors at night.  Every rider is required to take a safety course before getting a license, and ABATE says all drivers need to obey traffic laws.

"We're smaller, but we still have the same rights to those lanes as a vehicle does.  But you know, we have to ride smart, too.  If we don't ride smart, you take that chance," said Will.

And while Iowa law does not currently require helmet use, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages them.  That's because NHTSA says there's a 40 percent greater chance riders will suffer a fatal head injury without one.  But ultimately, reducing the risk of crashes comes down to one thing:  being a cautious, defensive driver, aware of your surroundings at all times.

Each year, ABATE hosts a motorcycle awareness day to promote safe riding.  This year's awareness ride is set for May 12, leaving from the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo at noon.

The Iowa DOT says last year there were 35 motorcycle related deaths in the state.  That's down from 60 in 2010.  DOT says over the last 10 years, 60 percent of fatal crashes with motorcycles happened in broad daylight. 

So the department offers the following safety tips:

-Avoid blind spots of other drivers

-Wear bright or reflective gloves

-Install a modulating headlight

-Add reflective materials to the motorcycle

-Helmet use encouraged

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