Law makers trying to spread motorcycle safety awareness - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Law makers trying to spread motorcycle safety awareness as crash deaths increase

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KENNEWICK, Wash. -- The Department of Licensing and Governor Gregoire are trying to promote safety during May, the month of  Motorcycle Safety and Awareness month.
"In May, when the weather improves, we often see more people riding their motorcycles on our area roads," said Governor Chris Gregoire. "That's why I proclaimed this month Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. I want to remind all Washingtonians to be more alert and aware while driving so we can avoid harmful collisions and accidents."
Since January, 15 motorcycle deaths have been reported on Washington roadways. In 2008, there were 78 motorcycle fatalities statewide. There were 65 fatalities in 2007.

In 2010, there were 67 deaths on Washington roads.  "If your car slides off a road, you're ok, you're sitting inside your car with your seatbelt.  If you're on a motorcycle,  you're going to go down you're going to land," says Sgt. Ken Lattin with Kennewick Police Department who is also an experienced rider for more than 30 years.  Lattin took a spill in September because of wet pavement. 

"If you ride a motorcycle, it's not a matter of if you'll crash but when you crash, " says Lattin.  He says there are three big factors that cause accidents.  Drug and Alcohol impairment, speed and improper lane changes.

Many other drivers don't pay attention, so it's up to the people on the bikes to be extra careful.

" I was checking out the scenery, I wasn't paying attention, lost track of what was going on, came into a curve and lost control of the bike," says Chuck Riley the owner of Full Throttle, a Kennewick motorcycle store.  He has been riding for more than 40 years and took his first fall in October.

He says lots of people on the roads and on the bikes don't know what they're doing.  He and Lattin say taking a training class could save lives.

Motorcycle operators must pass a written and skills test to receive a motorcycle endorsement on their license, which allows them to operate a motorcycle legally in Washington. This can be done through the Department of Licensing or during a state-approved rider training course. For complete information, visit