Traffic safety officials are warning motorists to be extra careful around motorcyclists through the holiday weekend.

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Safety Officials Are Urging Motorists to Use Extra Caution Around Motorcycles

By Daniel Cherry | Published 01 Sep 2011 06:48pm | comments

Hundreds of people die on Mississippi's roadways each year, and those who ride motorcycles are about 30 times as likely to be killed in a traffic fatality. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how authorities say motorcyclists and other drivers can make roads a safer place.

Nearly 650 people died last year while on Mississippi roads....more than 40 of them were on a motorcycle.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol demonstrated what a motorcycle crash looks like for state and local law enforcement as part of their training.

Master Sergeant Ronnie Rayburn with the state highway patrol says they're seeing an increase in fatalities, especially in North Mississippi, where riders are driving powerful sport bikes

"It seems like they get away from the drivers. They're either not familiar with the handling of the bike at high speeds. Certainly your perception and reaction time. You can't react at high speeds like you can at low speeds to avoid any hazards."

Mississippi roads are statistically more dangerous than most states. That's partially because there are more rural roads. Many are in need of repair and curves come suddenly. Lieutenant Craig Williams with the Rankin County Sheriff's Department says these roads are even more dangerous for motorcycle riders.

"Speeding, most of the time they're running from the law...most of the time. Most of the ones I've seen end up in fatalities. Use common sense. Do what's right. Don't try to act crazy and show out in front of your friends."

Through the holiday weekend many riders will be getting use out of their bike before the weather cools. Dale Smith is a motorcycle crash investigation instructor. He says 66 percent of all motorcycle fatalities happen when a car pulls out in front of a bike.

"Motorcyclists need to ride like they're invisible, like people don't even know they're there. That's about the safest way to ride a motorcycle. For the motoring public, cars, pickup trucks, vans. We need to be looking for motorcycles everywhere."

Experts say those who speed are at a much higher risk. About 35 percent of all motorcycle fatalities are due to high speeds.



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