Pacey's gear he was wearing when he wrecked his motorcycle.

It’s springtime in Ohio and warmer weather means motorcyclists and farmers driving farm equipment are once again sharing the road with passenger vehicles, sometimes with fatal results. Local firefighter and avid motorcyclist, Michael Pacey, and Ohio State Highway Patrol Officer, Lt. Brian Aller, have seen firsthand how bad decisions can have terrible consequences for drivers of all vehicles, and both have tips to help drivers safely share the road.

Pacey recently survived a motorcycle crash riding at 148 mph on a closed track during competition. However, Pacey says the experience made the dangers of riding a bike more personal for him, “I’ve been at the scene of some really bad motorcycle accidents, some of them where the drivers were unrecognizable. But crashing a bike yourself makes you realize how fast something can happen. You are not invincible, no matter how well or how long you’ve ridden. Things happen so fast on a bike. One second you have control, the next second you’re sliding across the road on your back.”

Pacey explains his accident showed him how wearing the appropriate protective gear can literally save your life--just like in firefighting, “If you don’t wear the right gear before going into a burning building, chances are good you are going to get badly injured or die. The same thing goes for riding a motorcycle. I was wearing a helmet, a jacket, and riding pants when I crashed; yet even at 147 mph, I only walked away with some road rash.

Some riders argue that protective gear is too expensive. “I get that someone may not want to impede on the feeling of freedom they get from riding a bike and that a helmet can get hot; but isn’t your life, or at least your body, worth the $300 to $400 it costs to purchase some basic gear?” Pacey strongly urges riders to at least wear a helmet, “I’ll admit that just wearing a helmet may not necessarily save someone from dying in a motorcycle accident. I’ve seen some of those crashes as a firefighter. But wearing a proper helmet can save you from brain trauma and keep your brain from playing ‘ping-pong’ inside your head in a less serious accident.”

Even though he drives a motorcycle, Pacey says he has mixed feelings about the popular “Watch out for motorcycles” bumper stickers and signs.

“Everyone needs to watch the road and be aware of their surroundings. Riders need to take responsibility for their driving and not expect people driving cars to do all of the work. Everyone should be aware of the differences in response times between cars and motorcycles. The larger the vehicle, the longer it takes to respond. Things like gravel and tar strips on the road affect the vehicles differently, plan for those differences. It’s also harder to see smaller vehicles. Riding and driving defensively is the best way to prevent an accident.”

Ohio State Patrol officer, Lt. Brian Aller agrees and says the same holds true for sharing the road with farm equipment.

“For farm vehicles, we find that failing to maintain assured clear distance is the issue, not necessarily the fault of the farm equipment on the road. As long as farmers have the proper warning devices attached to equipment and are lawfully using the roadway, they have the same right to the road as everyone else. Due to the nature of their equipment their speeds are much slower. But drivers must obey proper passing laws and watch their speed in order to avoid crashes with these large machines and trailers.”

Lt. Aller also warns drivers, “Don’t drive distracted! Looking at your phone (while going) 55 mph or texting for a few seconds will find someone driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. That’s a scary thought.” Both Lt. Aller and Pacey warn drivers and riders to not get too comfortable behind the wheel or handlebar and to always be prepared to react to “the other person” out on the road.

Lt. Aller sums it up, “Always (drive defensively) and look out for the other person, you never know who did or did not see you. Wearing and activating safety equipment like seatbelts, reflective vests, headlights, helmets, riding jackets all help in reducing serious injuries and deaths on our roads. Drive within your means, focus on driving and scanning the road ahead for potential dangers will greatly reduce your chances of being in a crash.”

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