Motorcycle safety is at the forefront of St. Joseph’s dialogue after a fatal accident involving a 20-year-old motorcyclist Sunday on the North Belt Highway, and the St. Joseph Safety and Health Council is using its annual MoDOT grant to focus on the question.
Increased awareness is essential because bikers can be easily missed on the road, said Safety Council executive director Sheldon Lyon.
“The bike has a small silhouette,” he said. “Much smaller than those in a car, so they’re easier to miss on the highway. We must therefore ensure that we redouble our efforts and remind the public to be vigilant for these small vehicles circulating on the roadway.
Every crash is even more dangerous for motorcyclists because they lack the many safety features that cars and other enclosed vehicles have, Lyon said.
“I have the airbag advantage, I have the seat belt advantage, the crumple zones,” he said. “All these safety devices work together to save my life. It’s very different on a motorcycle – they don’t have any of that.
Lack of these resources, especially restraints, is part of why serious injuries and ejections are common in motorcycle crashes, Lyon said. This only increases the importance of using the security features they have, he said.
“Motorcyclists can help themselves by using their headlights, (wearing) light-colored clothing, protective clothing such as leather clothing, wearing boots instead of flip flops,” he said. . “Things like that help protect them when they’re on their bikes.”
Another factor to consider is that Missouri no longer has a helmet law for many motorcyclists, Lyon said.
“It’s going to affect the total number of deaths in the state and is already showing those results,” he said. “We want to make sure that we educate the public to seek out these motorcycles.”
Missouri’s helmet law was repealed in August 2020. Current regulations allow people 26 or older to ride without head protection as long as they have medical insurance.