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Your last motorcycle ride?

While the weather no longer looks like motorcycle riding season, all drivers should remain alert. There are always motorcycle riders who want to claim that the rode their cycle in November or December. Just last weekend, a rider was killed in a motorcycle crash in Somerset when a drunk driver turned in front of him on Main Street.

Riding a cycle in Pennsylvania during this month carries extra risks, as the shorter hours of daylight, the risk of rain, sleet or snow increases and even the presence of fallen leaves could potentially lead to a loss of control on a bike. Motorcycle accidents, involving turning drivers, drunk or not, are always a danger.

This is not an isolated problem, as in 2012 there were 93,000 people injured in motorcycle accidents. As the ownership of motorcycles has increased, the myth of the freedom of the open road often overrides practical concerns regarding the safe operation of a bike.

Motorcycles provide virtually no physical protection for the rider, unlike the modern motor vehicle that swaddles its occupants in crumple zones and wrap-around airbags. If the roof is not crushed, occupants, if securely seat belted in a car or truck can survive incredibly destructive accidents.

The same cannot be said of a rider on a motorcycle. The power to weight ratio of some "bullet bikes" provides them with dangerous capabilities. Safety training is important for all new motorcycle riders, especially older riders, as they may not have the years of experience driving a two-wheel vehicle, and may never have ridden a cycle previously.

Sadly, deaths increased for riders older than 50 by 7.7 percent in 2012. Overall, 4,967 people died in motorcycle crashes. Be careful if you go out for one last ride this season, and don't let it become your last ride forever.

III.com, "Motorcycle Crashes," October 2014

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