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How drivers and motorcyclists can make NJ’s roads safer for each other

Harley-Davidson's new electric motorcycle at the company's research facility in Wauwatosa, Wis. The company plans to unveil the LiveWire model Monday, June 23, at an invitation-only event in New York. (AP Photo/M.L. Johnson)
Harley-Davidson’s new electric motorcycle at the company’s research facility in Wauwatosa, Wis. (AP Photo/M.L. Johnson)

The warm weather is upon us, which means motorcycles are out in full force. Riding a hog can be fun but also dangerous without the proper riding equipment and training.

Tracy Noble, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, says in 2014 there were 62 deaths as a result of motorcycle crashes on New Jersey roadways. In 2015, it was under 50. The numbers for 2016 have not been released yet, but Noble is hopeful it will follow a downward trend.

Lack of helmet use, speed and alcohol are all major contributing factors associated with motorcycle deaths, she adds.

“Because of the congestion of New Jersey roadways, it’s a very dangerous place for motorcycle riders, especially on our highways,” she said.

Noble says motorcycles are much more vulnerable than cars in a crash. So drivers need to be aware, respectful, courteous, share the road and don’t tailgate. You don’t know if a motorcyclist has to make an abrupt movement, such as swerving to avoid a large pothole. So definitely allow extra space, she says.

Drivers also need put down the distractions and pay attention when they are driving. Motorcyclists are far less visible than other vehicles, so drivers need to make sure that they can see them properly and that means eyes focused on the road.

If you’re a motorcyclist, Noble suggests, “you want to make sure you make yourself visible and are riding in protective gear that provides visibility and protection, which includes wearing bright colors.”

Motorcyclists should also stay within the motorist’s line of sight so they are not riding off to one side where they would be in a blind spot for a vehicle. She says motorcycles and cars should never share the same lane side by side.

She says bikers should complete a motorcycle rider education and training course. There is an overwhelming number of motorcyclists who have had no formal training. Noble says getting professional training helps to be a defensive driving motorcyclist.

AAA is also using its social media and is partnering up with some other organizations throughout the state to increase motorcycle safety awareness.

Jen Ursillo is the midday news anchor on New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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