Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017
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Police & Fire

Motorcycle awareness highlight of police event

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    Mike Stock, ABATE of Ohio safety and education director, is flanked by local law-enforcement personnel as he talks during a news conference at Toledo Harley-Davidson.

    THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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    Jamie Blazevich, Lucas County traffic safety program coordinator, speaks during a press conference about motorcycle safety and awareness at Toledo Harley-Davidson on Monday.

    THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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Toledo police Sgt. Tom LaForge last rode his motorcycle without a helmet four years ago — when he collided with a vehicle outside the Scott Park District Station.

The driver pulled out in front of him two blocks from the station after Sergeant LaForge’s shift ended. He broke several ribs, snapped his collar bone, and suffered a concussion. It took six months before he returned to full duty.

“Ever since then, I don’t ride anywhere without a helmet,” Sergeant LaForge said.

Local law enforcement officials held a news conference Monday at Toledo Harley-Davidson in Sylvania Township to highlight motorcycle safety. As the summer approaches, more riders are taking to the road.

Jamie Blazevich, Lucas County traffic safety program director, recommended diligence for all motorists.

Motorcyclists should obey speed limits, ride defensively, and keep headlights on at all times. She warned against drug and alcohol use, as it negatively affects a driver’s ability.

“These substances also impair your alertness and your reaction time. Even when you’re fully alert, it’s impossible to predict what other vehicles and pedestrians are going to do,” she said.

There were 194 fatal crashes involving motorcycles statewide in 2016, a 45 percent increase since 2014. Officials reported another 3,768 injury crashes across Ohio in 2016 as well, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Lucas County recorded 205 motorcycle crashes in 2016, according to the patrol.

About 75 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes didn’t wear helmets. Ohio law requires those younger than 18 or with less than one year of experience to wear helmets.

“Reducing motorcycle fatalities is a national priority,” Ms. Blazevich said.

Sergeant LaForge, who leads the Toledo police motorcycle unit, recommended riders check their bike after removing it from storage and practice before heavy use.

Drivers should also avoid texting and driving to ensure safer travels, Sergeant LaForge said.

“If you look down for two seconds, there goes your reaction time,” he said.

Contact Ryan Dunn at: rdunn@theblade.com, 419-724-6095, or on Twitter @rdunnblade.

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