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Frank Ferry: New program in wake of motorcycle deaths

Live from City Hall

Posted: September 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Our community, like others across the nation, has seen a steady increase in the purchase and popularity of street motorcycles, which has directly contributed to an increase in motorcycle-related accidents and fatalities.

As gas prices continue to rise, more people are looking to motorcycles as a method of regular transportation. As a result, Santa Clarita has seen a significant increase in motorcycle-related traffic accidents and deaths. In fact, over the last two-and-a-half years, our community has seen 12 motorcycle fatalities and a total of 94 motorcycle accidents.

Motorcycles have a much smaller profile than other vehicles, which can make it difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle. While motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle on the roadway, they are far more at risk than drivers of automobiles. After a crash, the drivers of vehicles involved in motorcycle-related incidents often remark that they never saw the motorcyclist and were unable to respond in time. In the event of a crash, a motorcyclist is much more vulnerable and in much greater danger physically than other vehicle drivers.

It’s estimated that 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider, while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill a driver or passenger in the vehicle. Sobering statistics indeed.

Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in a traffic collision than someone riding in a passenger car. Despite there being far fewer motorcycles on the road nationally, motorcycle riders were involved in more than 10 percent of all road fatalities in the United States.

You may be surprised to learn that motorcycle accident victims in our city are all male and span several age groups, with half of them in their 20s. The main cause of motorcycle accidents in Santa Clarita is unsafe speed and right-of-way violations.

In an effort to promote safe driving, the city of Santa Clarita will launch a new, hard-hitting motorcycle safety outreach and education program aimed at reducing motorcycle accidents and fatalities. The campaign uses a stylized video game simulation to make a point that in real life there are no “extra lives.” Driving a motorcycle recklessly in real life has consequences that are deadly; in other words, game over. The imagery in the campaign depicts a motorcycle accident in “video game composite,” showing a motorcycle crash and a distraught family on the scene of a road in Santa Clarita. The visuals are strong and geared to attracting the attention of motorcycle riders, with the ultimate goal of getting them to slow down and drive safely.

The campaign advertising will appear in local bus shelters, publications and in SEASONS magazine. The city will also be reaching out to motorcycle shops and restaurants that sponsor bike nights to have awareness campaign materials easily viewable in these establishments.

We do not want to lose even one more person to a motorcycle accident. If we can help motorcyclists ride safely, and avoid excess speeds or unsafe driving practices, we can help them survive their next ride.

Motorists and motorcycle riders alike need to have respect for one another and the rules of the road. Otherwise, the consequences may be catastrophic. All it takes is a split second of concentration loss or one trick to go wrong to result in a serious crash. Please share the road and drive safe; your life depends on it.

Frank Ferry is the mayor of Santa Clarita and can be reached at


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