Sunshine and warm weather have drawn many motorcyclists to area roadways, leading riders and clubs throughout our area to stress the need for motorists to be aware of motorcycle riders.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website, data from police reports indicate there were 124,062 crashes on Pennsylvania roadways in 2012 a decrease from 125,322 in 2011 and fewer than the 144,542 crashes in the state 15 years ago. A 2011 tally states that of the 3,641 motorcycle crashes, 200 were fatal and 3,247 involved injury.

The smarter-usa.org website lists a number of reason why motorists don't see motorcyclists approaching. Some of which include motorcyclists wearing camouflage attire that prevents the rider from standing out from the background, looming below the threshold of detection, threat seen by motorist but not identified as important, expectation/rarity of encounter, estimated speed less than actual; negligence: did not look, hidden: obstruction by foreground object, physiology: bad eyesight, restricted movement, memory recall: pop-out not retained and chemical impairment: drink or drugs.

Motorcycle awareness campaigns remind motorists that motorcycles may be present in the traffic mix; and they encourage drivers to make a conscious assessment before executing a turn or making a lane change to determine whether a powered two-wheeled vehicle, operated by a two-legged person, already occupies the path of travel they intend to take.

One such campaign is PennDOT's "Live Free, Ride Alive" campaign started in 2012 to reduce motorcycle crashes and fatalities on Pennsylvania roadways.

"The campaign reminds riders to take it easy out there and accept personal responsibility for their actions, and addresses such issues as drinking and riding, speeding, and being properly trained and licensed to operate a motorcycle," said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E..

For more information, go to www.LiverFreeRideAlive.com.

Pennsylvania riders can enhance their driving skills and safety awareness by taking free training offered through Pennsylvania's Motorcycle Safety Program. Courses are free to Pennsylvania residents and are held from March through October at approximately 70 sites across the state. Motorcycle permit holders who successfully complete the course will be issued a motorcycle license.

The 15-hour, Basic Rider Course (BRC) consists of five hours of in-class instruction and 10 hours of practical riding experience on a riding range under the watchful eyes of certified rider coaches. The BRC is a comprehensive safety and skills overview that provides valuable training for new riders. This course is also helpful to more experienced riders, allowing them to polish their skills and recognize any unsafe habits they may have picked up. Motorcycles and helmets are provided for students taking the basic course.

If a rider has completed the BRC, the six-hour, Experienced Rider Course helps experienced riders refresh their safety knowledge and hone their skills on a riding range under the guidance of certified rider coaches. Students taking the ERC must provide their own motorcycle and helmet.

Visit www.pamsp.com for more information on the Motorcycle Safety Program and to enroll in a course.

Collisions that happen because of a motorist crossing into a motorcycle's path are called right-of-way violations (ROWV). Some biker and rider organizations theorize there is no need for riders to wear helmets if motorists "start seeing motorcycles" so that these types of collisions are then eliminated.

Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any other motor vehicle on the roadway, but most of the other public service campaigns promoting motorist awareness of motorcycles also assert that motorcyclists have a responsibility to make themselves visible to other motorists by wearing brightly colored attire and helmets.

Motorcycle and motorcyclist awareness and "share-the-road" campaigns compose but one component of a comprehensive motorcyclist safety effort, and ROWV collisions are but one type of crash involving motorcycles.

The website added that when you hit a motorcycle made of metal, plastic and rubber, you are also hitting a rider made of flesh and blood, bones and tissue.