CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – With the warmer weather many motorcyclists will be getting their rides road ready.

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) wants drivers to take care, be more mindful, and look out for motorcycles on the road.

According to MassDOT, data both nationally and in Massachusetts shows an increase in motorcycle accident fatalities. In 2022 there were 42 in the state and a 9% increase across the country from 2020-2021.

Motorcyclists also need to be prepared to drive defensively and anticipate that a motor vehicle driver may not see them. Educational training courses are available through the state-sponsored Rider Education Program (MREP). The program offers rider skills and safety on the road with rider education and training to both novice and experienced motorcycle riders.

“The RMV underscores the importance of motorcycle safety, and the critical need for motorcyclists to be properly educated, trained, and licensed to be able to safely and cautiously operate motorcycles, and navigate all types of roadway conditions in various weather conditions,” said the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, Colleen Ogilvie. “Riding a motorcycle can be exhilarating and fun but can also be dangerous as there is a higher risk for severe injury or fatality, so we encourage motorcyclists to be prepared, wear appropriate safety gear and helmets, and always try to be bright and visible.”

The RMV has also created a series of public service announcements (PSA) featuring 14 MassDOT employees who are motorcyclists. The PSA discusses safe driving tips, suggestions for motorcycle training, and the dangers posed by vehicles making unsafe left turns, and includes the slogan: “RIDE SMART.”  They say riding smart includes taking your time, being bright and visible, anticipating, and riding cautiously.  The videos can be found on MassDOT’s YouTube channel.

“Drivers should really be aware of people on motorcycles and keep their distance, and just make sure they stay safe, and that the motorcycle rider is safe,” expressed Cindy Craddock of Chicopee.

As the weather gets warmer we will start to see more motorcyclists on the road. MassDOT says road safety is a shared responsibility and people with vehicles play an essential role in motorcyclist safety.

The owner of Indian Motorcycle of Springfield, Dennis Bolduc says safety should be the main priority when getting on a motorcycle, especially on rainy days, “Slow down, take your time on the corners, be hyper aware of your situation. You always are anyhow, but you got to increase that level with the rain.”

Bolduc said that distracted driving is a huge issue that can put riders at risk and stops drivers from seeing motorcyclists on the road. He also explained that it’s important to check your tires and wear protective gear before your ride.

Lately Bolduc said he has been seeing more people come in to buy motorcycles, “People are buying them for a variety of reasons; could be economy reasons, gas prices are high, bikes are, you know, much cheaper to run. There’s a whole lot of reasons.”

MassDOT recommends that people drive at or below the speed limit, drive sober and hands-free to save lives.