SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – After three people were killed in motorcycle crashes this weekend, Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) has reminders for everyone as the weather gets warmer and more motorcycles will be on the road.
Sgt. Danny Allen has seen his fair share of tragedy on the roads during his 10-year tenure with the motor squad for UHP and experiences how dangerous being a motorcyclist can be on a daily basis.
“Your skills are perishable,” said Sgt. Allen. “A couple weeks ago, I got ran out of my lane by a vehicle changing lanes and when I stopped and talked to them, his reasoning was his mirror sensor didn’t show that I was there.”
Sgt. Allen started looking over the motor squad six months ago and holds his team to high standards to improve their safety on the roads.
“Don’t get on that bike until you’re mentally ready to do so. I tell my troopers on the squad the same thing. I don’t want them on that bike until it’s warmed up, but more importantly, until their mind is warmed up to ride that bike,” said Sgt. Allen.
Rich Foster, president of the Salt Lake Motorcycle Club said the roads have gotten more dangerous with the development of technology.
“It’s dangerous because drivers are easily distracted. When you’re on a motorcycle, you’re not easily distracted,” said Foster. “You have to think of yourself as a target and everybody else on the street is out to get you. If you start thinking in those terms, then you start riding defensively.”
Foster has been riding for more than 50 years and said he’s never gotten into a crash, but he’s witnessed traumatic incidents on the road.
“I’ve seen them all. I’ve seen so many things that it would be hard to talk about,” said Foster.
Sgt. Allen and Foster both agree that drivers pay a big role in motorcycle safety and need to be more alert behind the wheel.
“You’ve seen the stickers that say ‘Start seeing motorcycles.’ I would say, ‘Start LOOKING for motorcycles,” said Sgt. Allen.
“We want drivers to look twice. When you drive, you look once to see if that bus or semi is coming. We’re saying ‘Look twice. Look once for the semi-truck and then look again for the motorcycle,” said Foster.
Foster believes wearing a helmet is a choice that should be up to each individual rider. Sgt. Allen believes everyone should wear one.
“You have your seat belt in your car and the frame around you. But on a motorcycle, a helmet is all you have,” said Sgt. Allen. “I don’t wear a helmet because I lack confidence on my riding skills, I wear a helmet because I’m not sure what everybody else out there is going to be doing.”
Sgt. Allen encourages motorcyclists to seek additional training to become more familiar with the bike and how to ride it defensively.
“I wish it was mandatory for riders to get their motorcycle endorsement. I’d recommend going to a rider education course,” said Sgt. Allen. “I’ve seen a lot of situations where the rider panicked, slammed on their rear break on the bike, which is the worst thing you can do.”
Foster said he wants to remind drivers to be extra alert this weekend as there will be more motorcyclists on the road for the Utah Kids Ride for Shriners Hospital.