Monday, May 06, 2013


A crash course on motorcycle safety

It’s like clockwork — daylight savings time comes, the weather warms up and motorcyclists quickly populate the roads of Eastern Connecticut.

Unfortunately, this sure sign of summer usually coincides with crashes. This year is no different, especially with sand still on the roads after a brutal winter.

In the past month alone, we have seen approximately 15 motorcycle crashes, some causing serious injuries.

Inexplicably, some of the bikers were not wearing helmets. As a trauma nurse who sees the impact firsthand, I cannot stress enough how important it is to wear a helmet.

Head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes, and motorcyclists are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Although in Connecticut it is not a law, it is in my book. Helmets should be worn at all times, as they are the best way to avoid head injuries.  If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones who might have to live with the consequences.  Trust me, I’ve seen the impact this can have. Here are some tips:
•  It can’t be said enough: Always wear a helmet.
•  Wear proper gear – flip flops, shorts and sandals are not safe. Boots, jeans and leather can make a big difference if a crash occurs.
•  Use eye protection.
•  Be aware that other drivers may not see you in their blind spot.
ˆ Obey speed limits.

If you are driving a car or truck, pay extra attention to motorcycles. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation:

•  Motorcycles are more likely to be hidden in blind spots. Take some extra time to watch out for them.
•  Don’t follow motorcycles too closely. In fact, allow more space than you would for another care because motorcycles sometimes slow down by down shifting, not using brakes, which means the brake light is not activated.
•  It isn’t easy to judge a motorcycle’s speed. For example, when turning left at an intersection, assume that a motorcycle is closer than it is.

Whether you ride a motorcycle or a bicycle, truck or tricycle, you can make our roads safer this spring and summer by taking a few extra precautions.
Gillian Mosier is Backus Trauma Center Program Manager for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Mosier or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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