Sadie Says …

Answers to frequently asked questions about safe driving

Q: “It’s been years, but now that I’m retired, I’m ready to get back on a motorcycle and have some fun. Any suggestions before I take off?”

A: Be in the know before you go.

A lot has changed since your early riding years. There is more traffic, faster traffic, motorcycles are larger, heavier and more powerful and there are different risks when navigating in traffic with a motorcycle versus a car.

Also, take into consideration age-related changes that affect riding — delayed reaction time, altered balance, vision changes, decreased bone density and decreased muscle strength. Factor in prescription/over-the-counter medication and/or alcohol that compound the changes with age and riding becomes riskier.

When an older rider gets hurt, they are more likely to get seriously hurt. Protective riding equipment, increased visibility and rider training are vital for the safety of the ride.

To be a safe motorcyclist, you must be alert, be safe and be seen.

Be alert

Always pay attention. At intersections, make eye contact with drivers. Look left-right-left before and while crossing. Be aware of vehicles entering the roadway from side streets, driveways, parking lots or when merging. Never ride distracted or when under the influence of alcohol or medication.

Be safe

A recent Pennsylvania study found without training, a rider is 148 percent more likely to die or be injured in a motorcycle crash.

Be a safe rider; take an approved motorcycle safety course. Motorcycle safety courses are free for residents of Pennsylvania.

Three courses consisting of knowledge and skills tests are offered — basic riding course, advanced riding course and 3-Wheeled Motorcycle basic riding course.

Some insurance companies offer discounts to riders who successfully complete the training.

For more information on the motorcycle safety program and to enroll in a course, visit www.pamsp.com or call 800-845-9533.

Be Seen

Drivers can look at you and not see you. Motorcycles are smaller than cars and drivers are expecting to see larger vehicles, not motorcycles. The main reason motorcycles and other vehicles collide is that the driver of the other vehicle fails to see the motorcycle. Increase your visibility with neon and reflective clothing and materials.

Even if you stopped riding for the winter, your riding abilities are not the same as they were last fall. Consider yourself a beginner. Take time to practice and reacquaint yourself with your bike. It is equally important to always wear full protective gear whenever you ride.

An option that has become popular is the three-wheeled motorcycle that has two wheels up front. A three-wheeled bike with two wheels up front provides more stability and more visibility — two factors that enhance safer riding. They are easier to balance and include technology to reduce the risk of rollovers.

Sadie Says … is brought to you by the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition’s Safe Communities Task Force, whose members include AAA North Penn, AARP, STEP Office of Aging and regional transportation and highway safety advocates.

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