State officials: 16 motorcyclists already died this year

The Missouri Department of Transportation is educating the public

Motorcycle awareness month

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - This month the Missouri Department of Transportation is trying to cut back on motorcycle-related deaths, during a push to boost awareness.

Last year, there were 72 motorcycle fatalities in the state. So far this year, 16 people have died.

MoDOT says that is too many.

MoDOT officials chose May because that is when people start to see a lot more bikes back out on the road.

Officials say they are asking motorcyclists to be careful, and other vehicle drivers to keep an eye out.

"There are a number of reasons motorcyclists are at more of a risk than regular roadway users. First of all, they are a more vulnerable roadway user, meaning they're not in a protected caged like we see in our passenger vehicles," said Chris Luebbert of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

And that lack of protection can cause some serious damage if even the slightest hazard presents itself.

"There are certain hazards in the roadway that aren't necessarily hazards to people in vehicles. Things like turtles, animals and lawn clippings from people mowing their lawn and can pose a potential hazard to a motorcyclist," said Lubbert.

MoDot says because motorcycle drivers never know what the road might hold, they need to protect themselves with the proper safety equipment.

"Wear properly protected gear. An ADF-complaint helmet, full-arm protection, feet protection, legs, gloves and so forth. So in the event they are in a crash, they are better-protected," said Lubbert.

Because motorcycles are not as steady as other vehicles, MoDOT says to leave plenty of room.

Motorcycle driver Darrien Puente says she always gets nervous when trucks get too close to her.

"Especially when a truck gets too close when it's raining," said Puente.

MoDOT says one-third of last year's motorcycle-related crashes happened with a motorcycle driver who was not properly licensed.

MoDOT says it is illegal to drive a motorcycle without a proper license and it puts others at risk as well as yourself.

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