Motorcycles and motor vehicles safely share the road

Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 8:34 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - “Motorcycles are innately dangerous and it’s a choice every person makes when they get on one. You’re putting your life at risk, and it’s the same as if you’re driving a car. It’s all about what you want to do to limit those risks,” said Earl McConnell.

Earl McConnell has been riding motorcycles for 16 years, and in his opinion, intersections are one of the most dangerous spots. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, he’s right. Because at least 70% of motorcycle-vehicle collisions happen at intersections, but that’s not the only danger.

”I mean people who mow their grass and dump it in the road, that’s basically ice when you get on top of it. If you’ve never road on gravel, take your time when you’re on it, and look out for stuff. I mean we lost people to mattresses coming off of trailers, ice chests coming off the back of trucks. Look out, don’t get behind things that have cargo, stay away from dump trucks things fly off,” said McConnell.

McConnell said his first time riding a motorcycle, he broke both of his wrists. After that, he decided to take a motorcycle safety course.

He said it made it a lot easier and safer for him to ride, and he suggests that all motorcyclists take a course and find mentorship.

While safety courses and mentorship are only recommended to civilian motorcycle riders, it is required for all military members.

Walt Patterson is the interim lead safety instructor at Fort-Sill.

The course began in 2005, after Fort Sill signed a contract with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Program, because of the skyrocketing number of motorcycle crashes and fatalities.

”I teach these guys, it’s in the curriculum, that you look ahead and you play the what if game with yourself. What if that car pulls out, what if the light changes, what if that child comes across the street,” said Walt Patterson.

Private First Class Dallas Vaughan is currently taking the course, although he doesn’t have a motorcycle yet.

“Taking the course just for honestly safety, I have had buddies get in accidents before, and I don’t want to be one of those,” said Vaughan.

PFC Vaughan said he wants to avoid being in a crash.

“I honestly just say wear the proper gear, because I’ve seen buddies get messed up, and I’ve seen buddies walk away from stuff they shouldn’t have walked away from,” said Vaughan.

It is not illegal to not wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Oklahoma, but it is highly suggested by safety officials. However, on Fort Sill, it is mandatory to wear a helmet.

“Riding a motorcycle is about 90% mental, so it would probably be a good idea that you wore a helmet, to protect the main part of riding a motorcycle,” said Patterson.

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