Transportation Director John Cooper emphasized the need to share the roads in a statement released last week.
“As a matter of safety, it is necessary for motorcycle riders and drivers of other types of vehicles to use safe driving habits,” Cooper said. “To prevent injuries and deaths on Alabama’s roadways, motorcyclists and motorists must be vigilant in their efforts to share the road and ensure everyone’s safety.”
According to the Department of Transportation, the leading causes of motorcycle crashes arespeeding, misjudging stopping distance, following too closely and failure to yield right-of-way by all drivers.
Preliminary data collected by the agency shows that there were 81 fatalities and 1,428 injuries in 1,830 crashes last year in the state of Alabama.
Locally, Coroner J.C. Poe said he has worked his share of motorcycle accidents, but most of the crashes he sees involving a motorcycle are not caused by the rider.
“The majority of them are caused by other people,” Poe said. “They don’t look out for the motorcycles or they assume the motorcycle will stop for them because they are bigger.”
That was the case last November, when Steve Odom was riding his motorcycle on Ninth Avenue in Jasper. Odom had been putting out signs for the Eldridge Children’s Home Toy Run, when a vehicle pulled out in front of him. With nowhere to go and no time to react, Odom soon found himself rolling down the highway without his bike.
Fortunately Odom only suffered minor injuries, and after shoulder surgery, he was able to ride to California on another bike. Although he escaped serious injury, he knows that his story could be much different.
“By the grace of God, I didn’t get hurt any worse than I did,” Odom said. He also said that wearing all his protective gear and a full face helmet helped to protect him from other injuries.
The DOT recommends that motorist and motorcycle riders should all pay special attention at intersections, stay out of blind spots of other vehicles, obey all traffic laws, avoid distractions and follow at a safe distance.
Odom also recommends that people just slow down and take their time on the roads.
“I think people get in a hurry sometimes,” Odom said.
As for the driver that hit Odom, he said he doesn’t hold a grudge.
“It was just a mistake,” Odom said. “I don’t hold anything against her, we’ve all made mistakes.”