In 2016, there were more than 2,100 motorcycle accidents in Missouri. Kelly Jackson with the Missouri Transportation Department tells Missourinet more than 1,900 motorcyclists were injured and a record high 122 were killed last year in Missouri traffic accidents.

“Over the last four years, we’ve seen a steady increase in motorcycle fatalities,” says Jackson.

The number of motorcyclists killed in Missouri crashes in recent years:

2016: 122, 40 of the fatalities included motorcycles not wearing helmets.
2015: 91, 28 of the fatalities included motorcycles without helmets.
2014: 89, 26 of the motorcyclists were not wearing helmets.
2013: 74, 16 of the fatalities included motorcycles without helmets.

Fatal motorcycle crashes reach all-time high in Missouri

So far this year, at least 23 motorcyclists have been killed in Missouri traffic accidents.

“We do know that with warmer weather and a milder winter, motorcyclists were able to get out and about a little bit more,” says Jackson. “They were traveling more on Missouri’s roadways and of course with the vehicle miles traveled up, we see more motorists on the highway.”

May is Motorcycle Safety Month in Missouri. Jackson reminds those traveling on Missouri’s roadways to keep some life-saving safety measures in mind:

* Be visible. Motorists often have a hard time seeing you. Keep your headlight on, day or night. Use reflective strips/decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle. Be aware of other vehicle’s blind spots.

*Dress for safety. Wear a helmet and eye protection. Wear bright clothing. Wear thick or leather clothing for protection. Section 302.020 RSMo. states, in part, “Every person operating or riding as a passenger on any motorcycle or motor-tricycle, as defined in Section 301.010 RSMo., upon any highway of this state shall wear protective headgear at all times the vehicle is in motion. The protective headgear shall meet reasonable standards and specifications established by the director.”

*Think safety while riding. Give yourself space to react to other motorists’ actions. Use lane positioning to increase visibility. Watch for turning vehicles. Signal your next action in advance. Pretend you’re invisible and drive defensively.

*Know your bike. Get formal training and take refresher courses. Practice riding your motorcycle before going into heavy traffic. Know how to handle your motorcycle in all types of road conditions.

Car and truck drivers need to share the road with motorcyclists and keep the following in mind:

* Drivers should actively watch for motorcyclists.

* Motorcycles may look farther away than they are due to their smaller size. It is also difficult to judge the speed at which a motorcycle is traveling as it approaches.

*Motorcycles are hidden easily in a vehicle’s blind spots, or masked by objects or backgrounds. Thoroughly check traffic before changing lanes.

*Motorcyclists may slow down by downshifting or easing off the throttle. So, you may not see a brake light. Allow extra distance between you and a motorcycle.

*A motorcycle’s turn signal does not cancel after the turn like a vehicle’s signal does. So, pay attention, the motorcycle may not be turning.

*A motorcyclist will often adjust their position in the lane in order to be seen more easily and to avoid debris, wind, or passing vehicles. Allow the motorcyclist to share the lane; don’t assume they are being reckless.

*Stopping distance for motorcycles is similar to that of cars. But, slippery pavement can make stopping quickly difficult. Please allow more distance behind a motorcycle in these types of road conditions.