SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — May has officially been declared Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois, urging all Illinoisans to “start seeing motorcycles” on the state’s roads.

According to a news release, the Start Seeing Motorcycles campaign was rolled out as warmer weather brings motorcyclists back onto the roads. It is a joint effort between the governor’s office, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police and motorcycle safety advocates.

“Thousands of riders enjoy Illinois by motorcycle. During the coming months, it’s important to share the road, slow down and be aware of your surroundings,” said Steve Travia, IDOT’s Director of Highways and Chief Engineer. “By working together and following some simple rules, we can save lives.”

Data shows that motorcyclists are heavily overrepresented in traffic crashes and fatalities. Despite representing 3% of total vehicle registrations in Illinois, they accounted for more than 11% of traffic fatalities in 2022.

“While motorcyclists are a statistically smaller portion of total roadway users, they represent a disproportionately higher number of fatalities on Illinois roadways,” said ISP Division of Patrol Col. Margaret McGreal. “ISP reminds drivers to be aware of the vulnerabilities of motorcyclists and encourages riders to get quality rider training and wear proper gear.”

For riding season, Start Seeing Motorcycles banners and yard signs will be displayed throughout the state.

The Illinois Department of Transportation recommends the following steps for drivers and motorcycle operators to remain safe:

For drivers:

  • Look twice before changing lanes or merging into traffic. Use your mirrors and look over your shoulder to be sure it is safe. Allow appropriate distance. Traffic, weather, and road conditions require motorcyclists to react and maneuver differently.
  • Drivers should allow motorcyclists enough space to maneuver and enough time to adjust if necessary.
  • Motorists should always be vigilant. A motorcycle can easily be hidden behind other vehicles. Checking mirrors and blind spots is essential before merging or changing lanes.
  • Use care when driving near a group of motorcyclists. Sharing the road with organized motorcycle groups requires patience and communication. If a driver needs to change lanes or reach an exit, they should signal their intention and wait for the motorcycle riders to create a space. Do not merge in between groups or riders unless there is enough space to do so safely.

Tips for motorcyclists:

  • Wear DOT-compliant gear. Choose riding gear that increases visibility in traffic in addition to providing protection in the event of a crash. Use bright colors and retro-reflective strips or decals, especially at night. Over-the-ankle boots, gloves, protective jackets, pants, and properly fitted helmets with face shields or protective eyewear are all part of a full-gear package. Use lane positioning to increase your visibility to motorists. Ride with your headlight on at all times, it’s the law in Illinois. Give yourself space and time to react. Allow room for emergency braking and for avoiding a crash. Make lane changes gradually and expect the unexpected. Ride sober. Motorcycle riding and alcohol don’t mix. Drinking slows your reaction time and affects your balance, coordination and vision.
  • Always signal before changing lanes. Avoid weaving between lanes. Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.