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Motorcycle safety instructor offers tips for awareness month

A child runs through a row of motorcycles during pre game festivities before the Cedar Rapids Titans take on the Nebraska Danger at the U.S. Cellular Center in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
A child runs through a row of motorcycles during pre game festivities before the Cedar Rapids Titans take on the Nebraska Danger at the U.S. Cellular Center in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

As the weather warms up motorcyclists will begin hitting the road more and more. With May marking motorcycle safety awareness month, Matt Prickett, President of the Christian Motorcycle Association in Mt. Pleasant, offers tips for all drivers.

“One of the things that I tell the students is that you need to keep your head on a swivel and always be looking,” he said. Prickett said studies have shown drivers do not recognize things smaller than them. For example, drivers in cars tend not to recognize people walking, on bikes or motorcycles. “We need to always be vigilant.”

For those driving cars, Prickett said one of the biggest safety misconceptions they have is that motorcycles can stop on a dime because they are smaller. Being a semi-driver by trade, Prickett said he deals with this in his professional life as well.

In his semi, Prickett said he may have 18 wheels but he does not have 18 breaks. The same goes for the motorcycle and he urges those in cars to look twice because cyclists cannot stop as quickly as people think.

“A lot of people see a motorcycle but don’t recognize what it is so people need to always be paying attention,” he said.

Distractions also play a large part in the safety aspect of things as well, he said. With most accidents happening at intersections or curves, cellphones and radios are generally the culprit.

“People are always, always on a cellphone,” he said. “That’s dangerous for somebody on a motorcycle because they don’t have a cage. They don’t have something around them to protect them.”

Helmets are an important safety aspect, he said, but as Iowa does not have a law requiring rider to wear them, not all riders do.

“They, like seat belts are obviously more times than not going to save your life and keep your face intact,” he said.

Another thing riders have to look out for is clear roads. Things like grass clippings can be dangerous and make the ground slick for those riding, he said.

Prickett said when he’s teaching motorcycle safety courses, he always teaches the SEE (search, evaluate, execute) method. Although riders need to depend on other drivers to help keep them safe, they need to look out for themselves as well, he said.

“We have to share the road. We have to look out for one another because everybody is somebody’s family … none of us want to get that phone call that our loved one has been in an accident, especially if it’s (because) someone else has been careless,” he said.