News Feature

Taking personal responsibility for Motorcycle Safety

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May is Motorcycle Safety Awarness Month

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, so NYC Motorcyclist – whose mandate includes promoting rider education – has partnered with the Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program (ESMSEP) to offer a top 10 list of things riders should think about as the 2019 riding season kicks into high gear.

The ESMSEP is a Not for Profit 501(c)3 grassroots outreach education organization of like-minded motorcycle safety enthusiasts working towards the goal of promoting motorcycle awareness and the benefits of rider education through free informational seminars at libraries, adult continuing education programs, dealerships, club/group meetings, and rallies.

“(Our) primary goal is to present the importance of continuing rider education to licensed motorcycle operators ... but our information can also be extremely useful for newer riders as well,” says ESMSEP president Don Gomo, who adds the group’s main emphasis is to develop "increased situational awareness" in riders.

“ESMSEP tries to inspire those that ‘know how to ride’ to actually learn how to ride,” Gomo says. “To date, there is no one in New York State that presently addresses what we do, and from the information we’ve compiled, we may be the only rider education program in the country that does FREE education on a regularly scheduled basis.”

Heading into its fifth year of operation, the ESMSEP remains a member-supported organization with a robust benefits program that includes discounted offers from more than 80 sponsoring partners listed on the group’s website,, local dealers and companies, as well as national and international moto-related businesses.

“All of them are extremely supportive of ESMSEP’s task and recognize the value of it for the motorcycling community, and the potential for future customers that appreciate their support of motorcycle safety and awareness,” Gomo says.

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Even if you think 'you know how to ride', continue your riding education

ESMSEP tries to inspire those that ‘know how to ride’ to actually learn how to ride ... (Our) primary goal is to present the importance of continuing rider education to licensed motorcycle operators.

Don Gomo, Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program president

ESMSEP’s impetus literally comes from readily available shocking stats on motorcycling in the US and New York State.

“Unfortunately, the numbers related to crashes and fatalities haven’t really changed much over the years … it’s really not so much the ‘other guy’ that causes problems – the issue falls on to us, the riding community, and we do not want to hear that,” Gomo says. “If you break down the numbers things do not look to be in our favor. First, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates a motorist has a 26 times greater chance of being involved in a crash on a motorcycle than while driving an automobile.”

While motorcyclists make up approximately three per cent of road users, the two-wheeled set accounts for 19 per cent of overall crashes and fatalities.

“These are terrible stats to begin with, and it gets worse when it is broken down further,” he says.

  • Nearly 45 per cent of the crashes that occur are single-motorcycle accidents, which indicates that the rider did something wrong … whether it was related to excessive speed, improper braking, being under the influence, etc., almost half the crashes fall under the responsibility of the motorcyclist.

  • The remaining 55 per cent involve one or more other vehicles. While two-thirds of these fall under the fault of ‘the other guy’ – the remaining third are the fault of the motorcyclist – so now we are close to 65 per cent of all crashes falling under the fault of the rider.

  • Finally, although two-thirds of the 55 per cent falls under the responsibility of drivers, many in the rider education/training industry believe there is enough evidence to indicate that half of those accidents could have been avoided (or the final damage reduced), had the motorcyclists taken proper actions prior to the situation occurring. Combining the stats, more that 82 per cent of the recorded crashes could have been avoided if motorcyclists had taken appropriate steps.
“Yes, we must always watch for ‘the other guy’, Gomo says. “But the numbers clearly show that we are killing ourselves. This is extremely alarming – information we’d rather not believe – yet the numbers are there.”

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Make your 2019 riding season a safe one with a refresher course

Yes, we must always watch for ‘the other guy’. But the numbers clearly show that we are killing ourselves. This is extremely alarming – information we’d rather not believe – yet the numbers are there.

Don Gomo, Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program president

Consider supporting the ESMSEP by Becoming a Member … WE DID. Every active member is automatically enrolled in raffle giveaways as part of the organization’s current membership drive, and there will be exclusive drawings for any member that joins during the months of March, April and May of 2019. Your membership not only includes you in the Special Drive Giveaways … it helps support Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program's goal to promote motorcycle awareness and the benefits of rider education for FREE to the motorcycling community through the group’s continued outreach program seminars.

And, in the interest of keeping riders safe, here are 10 things to seriously ponder.

Make your 2019 Riding season a Safe One | TOP 10 LIST | Don Gomo, ESMSEP - President

  1. CHECK YOUR EGO: Before we even look at our motorcycle, we should be looking ourselves over. Make sure you are ready to ride, and always keep your ego in check. As soon as you think to yourself, ‘I know how to ride’, you may be assuming some unwanted risk. An all too common expression often heard is, ‘riding helps me clear my head’. Don’t you think your head should be clear before you head out for that ride.

  2. When it comes to ‘experience’ we have to remember that it is not the same as skills. A person could have five, 10, 15, 20 years of experience, but, often, that equates to only one or two years of a skill level that has been repeated for all the years they have ridden. There has been no further education and no improvement. We need to remember that riding a motorcycle really isn’t that hard to do. Granted some people may require additional time/training to learn it, but if you have a sense of balance, coordination and some mental skills – you can learn to ride a motorcycle. The Russian circus can teach bears to ride a motorcycle, so it should not be that hard for a human to learn. But becoming proficient with skills and mental processing takes education.

  3. Consider a Motorcycle Training course to help get those skills back in shape. Some folks may have put their motorcycle away as early as October and have just gotten it back out recently with the weather change – that’s six to seven months of not riding. One’s motor skills can easily diminish from non-use, or worse, start to become bad habits when returning to the ride. There is no downside to education and training.

  4. Improve your Development of Situational Awareness. There is a ton of information available for us to use – so use it to make the adjustments needed to minimize any possible risks. Lane Positioning, Speed Adjustments, Road Conditions, Traffic Conditions, Weather and Environmental Conditions should all be considered in making proper and constant adjustments. Remember, situations change as fast as we roll, so we should be constantly scanning for possible issues and tweaking for them.

  5. Even before rolling out on the road, check your motorcycle over. Use the pre-ride inspection process of TCLOCS on a regular basis.

    • Inspect for pressures (Keep in mind that improper tire pressures are the number one reason for tire failure and can also result in improper wear and impaired handling capabilities.)
    • Check for Tread thickness
    • Any possible objects (screws, nails, etc.)

    • Check Cables, Switches, etc. for proper operation.

    • Check to make sure all lights are working.

    • Motorcycles run and last a lot longer when you have the correct oil & fluid levels. Regular maintenance means replacing the fluids and associated filters.

    • Make sure they stay up when they are supposed to and stay in position when in use.
    • Check springs.

  6. Start off with shorter rides … you need to get your body and mind ‘back in the groove’. Fatigue can creep up quickly, especially if you haven’t been riding for some time, and can affect your judgement and reactions – both important to maintaining a peak level. Find an empty lot and practice some of your skills.

  7. Consider covering your controls to reduce reaction time in the event of a situation. And pay special attention when riding in hazardous areas; intersections, roadway on & off ramps, residential or congested neighborhoods, etc.

  8. Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists and keep a constant eye out for those drivers that may be distracted – texting, etc. Sharing the Road is the responsibility of ALL Road Users.

  9. Keep the education process consistently evolving – become a Lifelong Learner, taking whatever steps you can do to reduce the risks associated with the motorsport we love.

  10. Most Importantly – HAVE FUN! After all, this is why we do this.

For more information on the Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program, visit their website at: | Instagram: @empire_mc_safety | Facebook: ESMSEP

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