New "Ride Sober" Campaign Aimed at Motorcycles
Watching TV over the last several years, it's been difficult to miss the public service announcements by the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Now the NHTSA has launched a companion campaign focused on motorcycles, appropriately titled 'Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over.'
Generally scheduled around peak traffic seasons and major holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, the campaigns emphasize the facts surrounding drinking and driving. Amped-up enforcement concentrates on those periods with saturation patrols aimed at getting buzzed drivers off the road. No doubt these intense crackdowns also heighten awareness among law enforcement officers who remain vigilant well beyond these specific campaigns.
Even a small amount can affect riding skills
The unavoidable truth is that even a small amount of alcohol can affect your riding skills. Whether it reaches the legal threshold for impaired driving, any ability that is compromised by drinking gets magnified due to the higher levels of coordination, balance and focus required when riding a motorcycle.
Alarmed by an eight percent increase in biking fatalities in 2015, the latest year of available nationwide data, NHTSA found that bikers involved in fatal crashes had a higher rate of alcohol impairment than any other segment of drivers. In fact, alcohol was involved in 27 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes compared with 21 percent for cars and light trucks, and just two percent for large trucks.
The numbers are even worse for single-vehicle fatal crashes with a 42 percent rate among bikers. And on weekends, it was 63 percent.
Even more risks to drinking and driving
In addition to the physical dangers, the other risks of drinking and riding can be equally daunting. Consider, for example, all the costs of a DUI. By the time you add up attorney fees, court costs, lost work time, repairs to your bike, the cost of a wrecker service, higher insurance rates and on and on . . . you're easily looking at $10,000. And that doesn't even include the other possible impacts on your life, such as daily breath tests, program meetings, counseling and the unquantifiable consequences such as potential effects on family and friend relationships.
New app can help you get a ride home
For those who find themselves in the unenviable position of having already imbibed too much and don't dare to even attempt to ride home − or who have been prevented from trying to ride by a good Samaritan − NHTSA provides a smartphone app. Called SaferRide, the app enables someone to call a taxi or a predetermined friend. It also identifies the user's location so they can be picked up despite how incoherent they may be. You can find the app on both Google Play for Android and on the iTunes Store for Apple devices.
Eventually, experts expect a substantial portion of the drinking and driving issue − whether in cars or on motorcycles − will be eliminated with the advent of an ignition interlock device. In collaboration with vehicle manufacturers, the federal government is developing the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. When implemented, if your blood alcohol level is above .08, you won't even be able to start your vehicle, let alone get on the road and put lives at risk.