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National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in full swing

Ralph Peters, security officer at the Lawrence County Courthouse, was no stranger to riding motorized bikes, but when he made the transition from dirt to street bikes in 2010, he said he wanted to make sure he was as safe as he could be.

As the warming weather bringing out more and more bikers and May being National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the Ohio State Highway Patrol released a reminder for all riders to focus on being as safe as possible.

One of the main ways riders can do that is being aware of their surroundings, Peters said.

“Be aware of everyone and everything around you,” Peters said. “Always pay attention, especially at intersections.”

Peters said you never know when someone is going to be texting, playing with their radio or simply not paying attention to the road.

Bob Blankenship, court bailiff, agreed with Peters on being vigilant when sharing the road with other vehicles. He said the most experienced rider can be run off the road by someone not paying attention.

“I think a lot of times they just don’t see motorcycles,” Blankenship said. “I know even I have pulled out in front of a biker. It’s like you’re just expecting a larger vehicle and look over the bikes.”

In their release, the Highway Patrol gave guidelines on motorists sharing the road with motorcycles. It said to remember motorcycles should be treated as equals to other vehicles and do not follow too closely behind a motorcycle.

The Highway Patrol recommends taking a training class that goes beyond the test necessary to receive the motorcycle license endorsement. Peters said when he decided to start riding street bikes he did his research to find the right class.

“I took a class through Morehead State University that was out back of KYOVA Mall,” Peters said. “I wanted to be more aware of the laws and bike safety. They teach you all the basics, like what to do when approaching an intersection and maintaining control while paying attention to vehicles around you.”

From 2010-2012, motorcycle-involved crashes resulted in 509 fatalities and more than 11,480 injuries in Ohio, according to the release. The release also highlighted that 50 percent of the fatalities involved an impaired motorcyclist.

During the same two-year span, Lawrence County was the third-most cited county in Ohio for motorcycle incidents, according to a Highway Patrol bulletin.