Over the last year, roads and highways across the nation got plenty of use. Unfortunately, the roads are not always safe.

According to the Montana Department of Transportation, there have been close to 30 motorcyclists who lost their lives on the road in 2022. A total of 190 fatalities had happened on  Montana’s roadways, which is down from this time in 2021 when there were 230 road fatalities. The 2022 crash data the Montana Highway Patrol provided is preliminary and subject to change.

Data from 2011-2020 showed the amount of vehicle-related crashes and fatalities statewide. Crash severity seemed to be at its highest in 2015, with almost 450 crashes and 456 injuries. Eighty of those crashes happened in Yellowstone County. Fatal crashes for the county were nearly 18% over the 12-year period.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers tips for motorcyclists so they can stay safe on the roadways. Being visible to other motorists is important since they can have trouble seeing motorcycles. Make sure the headlights work on and remain on during the day and at night, ensuring visibility. Wear reflective strips and decals on clothing or the motorcycle.

Avoid driving in blind spots, flash the brakes when stopping, and slow down if possible. Have an escape route planned in case a car cannot see and violates the motorcyclists right of way. Dress for safety by wearing a good helmet and eye protection. Sturdy clothing like a leather jacket and pants are also a safety precaution. The pants should go over ankle-covering boots. Wearing bright clothing and a lightly colored helmet increases the chances of motorcyclists being seen by motorcyclists.

It is also important to use mental strategies when out on the road. Know and follow all road rules; use lane positioning to see and be seen. Always search for changing road conditions; use the Search, Evaluate, and Execute strategy. This will assess and respond to hazards before reacting to an emergency.

Aggressive cornering is one of the major causes of crashes, so be sure to corner within your skill set. Give yourself time and space to search for traps and escape plans. Give motorists time to see you and respond. Use turn signals for turns and lane changes. Ride as if you are visible and look for cars that could cross your path. And, of course, do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation encourages all motorcyclists to ride within their skill levels and know their situational limits.

If you are a motorcyclist, ensure you follow all road and highway standards to safely make it to your destination.