Keep a sharp lookout for two-wheelers

Friday, July 6, 2012

When you head out on the road this summer, make sure you keep a sharp lookout -- for other cars, of course, but also for deer, turkeys, other animals, bicyclists and especially motorcyclists.

AAA Nebraska notes that motorcycle fatalities are up 71 percent this year, and while that amounts to "only" 12 motorcycle deaths in Nebraska, that's on pace to be one of the worst years for bikers in history.

Last year, there were 23 fatalities, the worst since 1987 when 31 fatalities were reported.

Several factors are conspiring to make travel more dangerous for motorcyclists. For one, there are more of them -- there are nearly 90,000 licensed cyclists in the state, a record.

For another, we had a mild winter season. For the first time in Nebraska history, the state recorded a motorcycle fatality in January.

Drivers are reminded to keep a sharp lookout for motorcycles in the traffic mix.

* Before attempting a left turn, always look for motorcycles approaching from the opposite direction.

* If you are changing lanes, always use your turn signals, check mirrors specifically looking for motorcyclists, and turn your head to check your blind-spot.

* Never tailgate a motorcyclist or change lanes abruptly in front of one.

* Keep in mind that bikers may travel in pairs or groups. If you see one, another bike may be close by.

If you're thinking of becoming a motorcyclist, it's a good idea to take a motorcycle rider training course. If you're an experrienced rider, refresh your skills by taking an advanced course.

More information can be found at www.roads.nebraska.gov/nohs



A lot of motorcyclists got into it to save gasoline, but we're all getting a better deal, thanks to lower prices. AAA notes that national fuel prices were down to $3.33 a gallon from a high of $3.94 in April.

That's because a slow economy has reduced demand for crude oil, resulting in a drop of $23 a barrel since May 1.

Nebraskans don't get quite that good a deal, paying an average of $3.41 a gallon, or about 12 cents less for ethanol blend.

It's hard to imagine being thankful for $3.41 a gallon gasoline, but it should make filling up for that summer vacation slightly less painful.

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