Lansing, MI - Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is reminding motorists to be alert and attentive while sharing the road with motorcyclists as she relaunched the Michigan Department of State’s (MDOS) annual “Look Twice. Save a Life.” public education campaign.
The campaign kicks off May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer also issued a proclamation.
“'It is a golden rule of traffic safety for all drivers — whether on a motorcycle or driving a passenger vehicle — to be mindful of those around them,” Secretary Benson said. “‘Look Twice. Save a Life.’ is more than a slogan. It is a fundamental tenet of safe driving and key to reducing the number of crashes between passenger vehicles and motorcycles.”
As the days get longer and warm weather returns, drivers should expect an increase in motorcyclists on Michigan roadways. Warm weather months are typically the most dangerous time of the year for traffic crashes involving motorcycles. With a much smaller visual profile than passenger vehicles, motorcyclists are harder to see. Because of this, Benson reminded drivers that “looking twice” at intersections and when making left turns increases your opportunity to spot a motorcycle and prevent a crash.
From early May through late September 2021, the last year for which complete data is available, Michigan recorded 1,716 crashes between motorcycles and passenger vehicles. Those accidents resulted in 120 fatalities and 407 serious injuries — the highest annual number of fatal and serious injury crashes on record.
Motorcyclists are also at high risk of being killed or suffering a serious injury in a crash and are 28 times more likely to be killed in a crash than is an occupant of a passenger vehicle, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2020, the nationwide number of motorcyclists killed in a crash reached the highest total since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was established in 1975. This was a double-digit increase from the year prior.
In addition, 84% of crashes in Michigan occur on streets, not highways, with speed limits of 35-55 mph, and half happen at intersections.
In 2021, most crashes occurred in the state’s more populous counties, and most of those happened on weekends when motorcycle traffic tends to swell. The top counties for crashes in 2021 were:
- Wayne County with 423 collisions or 24.7% of all those recorded
- Oakland County with 163 or 9.5%
- Kent County with 141 or 8.2%
- Macomb County with 132 or 7.7%
“I’ve been riding a long time and learned early on that riding safely means taking responsibility for your own safety,” said Sterling Heights motorcyclist Bryan Renaud, who is a senior safety consultant for the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “That’s how I approach safety. But it also takes awareness from everyone who shares the road. Unawareness kills.”
In 2020, Renaud was involved in a serious crash near Rochester and 16 Mile roads in Oakland County. He suffered a broken collarbone. Renaud said the crash could have been much worse had he not been wearing a helmet, boots, and protective clothing.
Renaud said he and his fellow motorcyclists appreciate efforts by the state to increase safety awareness among riders and passenger vehicle drivers.
Funding for the campaign comes from the Motorcycle Safety and Education Fund, which was created by the Michigan Legislature in 2017. The fund is financed by $2.50 from each original motorcycle endorsement and $2 from each motorcycle endorsement renewal. The 2017 law requires the Secretary of State to create the ‘Look Twice. Save a Life.’ program to promote motorcycle awareness, safety, and education.
More information about the campaign is available at Michigan.gov/LookTwice.