Despite a projected drop in motorcycle fatalities both nationwide and in New Jersey, the state is taking time this month to educate riders and motorists about the dangers they could face over the summer riding season.

Rosetta Key, Townsquare Media

During National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, officials at several agencies are participating in initiatives aimed at curbing motorcycle-related crashes and fatalities in New Jersey.

"Motorcyclists must do their part by doing all that they can to have the latest and most effective safety equipment and obviously that begins with a helmet," said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety. "But motorists have a big part to play in this, too. We try to encourage everyone behind the wheel to be aware of motorcyclists at all times."

An awareness campaign comes to life on May 22 at the Jersey Shore Premium Outlets in Tinton Falls when shoppers get the opportunity to experience a motorcycle simulation while sitting on a stationary bike. Other efforts urge New Jerseyans to take a safety "pledge" in hopes of winning a prize.

Nationwide data released last week suggests a decrease in motorcyclist fatalities in 2013. New Jersey reported 44 deaths through the end of September 2013, compared to 65 one year prior.

"While these new numbers are encouraging, the historical data shows that motorcycle safety is still an area of major concern," Poedubicky said. "Given the fluctuations in the numbers, the one real conclusion you can make is that we have a lot more work to do for our motorcyclists."