Warmer weather means more motorcycle crashes likely

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DECATUR--The number of fatal motorcycle accidents in Illinois in 2014 was nearly 30 percent less than in 2013. To keep that number on the decline in 2015, authorities are warning drivers and bikers to stay alert and share the road. 


When the weather warms up, Maurice Burkey hits the road on two wheels instead of four. 


"It's like being a child again," said Burkey, a life-long motorcyclists. "It's like anything else that you've waited for a certain amount of time with a lot of anticipation and it's finally here."


With spring around the corner, the number of bikers kicking off and revving up rises with the temperature. 


"We went from [selling] a handful to 10 a week to selling 10 a weekend," said Burkey, who is also the business manager at Coziahr Harley-Davidson.


Even so, motorcyclists make up only three percent of all drivers across the United States, but account for 14 percent of highway deaths a year.


"The more motorcycles you put on the road, the more interactions you have with cars and motorcycles, the more accidents you are going to have," said Lt. Jamie Belcher of the Macon County Sheriff's Office. 


Authorities are warning drivers to listen for loud pipes, and check their blindspblind spots Meanwhile, bikers are advised to avoid those hard-to-see spaces when switching lanes and make themselves easy-to-see for others.


"The clothing itself, they have t-shirts that have reflective materials in them to wear a light hits them, they glow," said Burkey. 


And even though it's not required in Illinois, a helmet can cushion the blow should a cruise turn into a collision. 


"If you do get into an accident with a helmet on, your chances of surviving are a little bit better," said Belcher. 


Because 80 percent of motorcycle crashes end in injury or death. To avoid that outcome, life-long riders adhere to some basic rules of the road. 


"Overall it's just a matter of a lot of common sense," said Burkey. "Be patient with yourself, don't feel like the first time you ride it, it's going to be like you rode it all your life."

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