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March 28, 2012

Josh Kauffman (IDOT) 217.558.0517
Guy Tridgell (IDOT) 312.814.4693

IDOT Launches “Gear Up for Safe Ride” Campaign

Motorcycle Advocates and Music Star Join Efforts to Promote Safe Riding

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) today kicked off their “Gear Up for a Safe Ride” campaign in partnership with the Illinois State Police (ISP), Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) and A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE). The campaign promotes safe motorcycle riding through continued training and use of proper gear, as it reminds all motorcyclists to get licensed and keep their equipment well maintained. Country music star Dierks Bentley, an avid motorcycle rider, is featured in one of the campaign’s public service announcements to boost awareness and encourage safe riding across Illinois.

“We deeply appreciate the efforts from all our partners, including the talented Dierks Bentley, and are very grateful for their dedication and support in helping us promote a safe riding environment for Illinois motorcyclists,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “With ridership on the rise and increased participation in our motorcycle education and training programs, this campaign positively impacts and educates riders on the importance of proper gear, visibility, equipment maintenance, licensing requirements and safety to help minimize the number of crashes involving motorcyclists.”

“Our goals are to educate our members in proper riding techniques and safe operation, and to improve public acceptance and awareness of motorcyclists while maintaining a friendly, fun atmosphere,” said GWRRA Illinois District Educator Jerry Allhands. “The Illinois District of the GWRRA is proud to cooperate with the State of Illinois and all of its departments in educating the motoring public.”

For the past 26 years, ABATE of Illinois Inc. has been protecting the rights of motorcyclists. We also have to protect ourselves by ‘gearing up to ride,’” said Carleen Grant, Public Relations Coordinator with ABATE of Illinois. “We do this by preparing and servicing our motorcycles prior to the riding season as well as stressing the importance of the Cycle Rider Safety Training Program. Following this advice is invaluable to a successful and safe riding season."

"Any motorcycle operator, regardless of experience, can become involved in a crash," said Illinois State Police Bike Safe Training Coordinator Trooper Elizabeth Diaz. "This is why it is so important that they remain focused and alert, and take the necessary precautions to ensure they are visible to other motorists, wear the appropriate protective gear, have regular maintenance performed on their motorcycles, and attend motorcycle safety courses."

Motorcycles represent three percent of total vehicle registrations, yet motorcycle fatalities approach 16 percent of all vehicle fatalities. Statistics show about half of motorcycle rider deaths occur in crashes only involving the motorcycle. There are various reasons for motorcycle crashes and sometimes determining the cause is difficult. However, there are circumstances where riders have a degree of control. When properly trained, motorcyclists greatly improve their prospects for a safe ride.

IDOT offers the following tips as part of the “Gear Up for a Safe Ride” campaign:

  • Utilize a reputable preventive maintenance program for motorcycle equipment. Before the first ride of the season, motorcycles should be thoroughly inspected and serviced by a professional mechanic.
  • Dress with the proper riding gear. The use of high-visibility clothing for riders is an effective tool to enhance safety by alerting other drivers of your presence. Riders should use a quality DOT-approved helmet to protect them from devastating head injuries. Goggles or glasses constructed of shatter-resistant materials will significantly help protect eyes. Jackets, long pants and gloves constructed of sturdy material will help protect the rider’s body in case of a fall. Strong over-the-ankle footwear is also recommended.
  • Riders should take advantage of free training opportunities to help improve riding skills and to outline proven strategies to manage the inevitable risks of the sport. IDOT will make 25,000 free motorcycle training slots available for all skill levels during the 2012 training season. To learn more about the free training courses, visit
  • Make sure all motorcyclists are properly licensed. About 20 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes are not properly licensed.
  • Obey traffic laws. Motorcyclists who obey traffic laws significantly improve their chances for a safe ride.
  • DON’T DRINK AND RIDE. The use of alcohol plays a negative role in about 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities.
  • Never ride beyond your ability. Riding skills improve with experience and training. Riders who are patient and gain these skills before trying advanced maneuvers increase their chances for a safe ride.

IDOT encourages all Illinois motorcyclists to be involved in creating a safe motorcycling environment for all. To learn more about IDOT’s motorcycle safety program, laws and regulations, statistics, additional educational materials or to see a sponsor list for literature distribution locations, please visit

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