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By PAUL CIBOLSKI
The temperature is going up, the Derby is over and your friends and neighbors are rolling out their motorcycles and scooters for another season.
Many of us are getting used to the idea of seeing motorcycles on the streets, even more so than 20 years ago. Motorcycle registrations in the state has nearly tripled over the past 10 years from 36,000 in 1998 to 101,304 at the end of 2007.
May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month in Kentucky. The program was started by the Kentucky Motorcycle Association more than a decade ago. Its purpose is to try to bring attention to the non-biker community that sharing the road is the responsibility of all motorists.
With the price of fuel skyrocketing daily, I see no reason why sales will not continue to remain strong. Usage of bikes should become more intense to due to the gas mileage advantage.
New registrations have risen at a rate of more than 6,000 per year for the past 10 years. A lot of these riders are, in fact, first-time riders. The motorcycle safety courses generally are filled months ahead but if you need to attend the safety course (which I advise anyone to do), be patient get on the list and by all means attend.
In the past two months, two riders were killed and three others injured in Hardin and Meade counties. In neither case was the rider at fault.
If you’re a rider, be sure to closely inspect and check your bike prior to going out, especially if your bike has been in storage. If you are not mechanically inclined, take your bike to the dealer or repair shop for a professional check-up.
Remember, on a motorcycle or scooter there isn’t a lot of room for error. A mechanical failure, tire failure, etc. can be as deadly as any collision.
Automobile and truck drivers need to keep a sharp eye out, especially in intersections or while making left hand turns across lanes.
The major share of collisions between bikes and other vehicles takes place on these situations. Always “look twice” to make sure the road is clear.
The sad part of a motorcycle fatality or injury is that statewide 40 percent of riders were impaired at the time of the accidents. This is totally preventable. Drugs and alcohol are a ruthless and indiscriminate killer. New riders, old riders, experienced or novice, it doesn’t matter.
If you drink don’t ride. At 0.03 blood-alcohol content, you start to become impaired in your operation of a motorcycle. You don’t have to be at 0.08 BAC to get into trouble.
Always wear clothing that may protect you in the event of an accident. Helmets, jeans, boots, leather enclosed shoes, eye protection and long-sleeve shirts should be a minimum.
The Kentucky Helmet Law states:
n You must be 21 years old.
n You must have a motorcycle license and have that license for a minimum of one year.
n If you are riding on a learners permit or don’t meet the criteria of having a license for a minimum of one year you must wear a helmet regardless of age.
n Passengers 21 years old or older are not required to wear a helmet.
n Anyone younger than age of 21 is required to wear a helmet at all times while riding a motorcycle as a driver or passenger.
A car driver’s license is not a motorcycle license. Your license must have a motorcycle endorsement to be legal to ride. If you need a learner’s permit it must be obtained at the licensing office just like a regular license.
Remember ride educated, sober and license and enjoy the sport.
Paul Cibolski of Vine Grove is a former regional director of the Kentucky Motorcycle Association.