For John “J.D.” Sanders, riding his 2010 Harley-Davidson gives him a “sense of freedom and a sense of being unencumbered.”
“It's more than you can put into words; it's like an event to me, whenever I ride. And it's not just about traveling one place to the other,” Sanders said.
Sanders, 49, said one way he stays safe on the roadways is being aware of his surroundings and being aware of other drivers.
“You have to be constantly trying to look for everything, all at the same time that you're not trying to pay attention to anything,” he said. “It's kind of a battle but it's worth it.”
As temperatures rise into the 80s and 90s, motorists can expect to see more two- and three-wheeled vehicles on roadways. Because of this, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office promoted national Ride to Work Day for motorcyclists Monday, reminding drivers to share the road.
“It's a chance for people in the safety community to make drivers aware of the need to look twice and pay attention and be aware of motorcyclists. Especially with the weather starting to get nice, people are getting out there more on motorcycles, and it's just important for the safety of all those people on those motorcycles that we, in cars and trucks, are looking for them during this time,” said Kevin Behrens, Oklahoma Advisory Committee for Motorcycle Safety and Education administrator and chairman.
National Ride to Work Day takes place on the third Monday in June and is intended to demonstrate the large number of motorcyclists in the working community and the possible economic and social benefits of motorcycling.
Oklahoma had 127,679 motorcycles registered in 2012, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. The number of registered motorcycles has continued to increase in recent years, Behrens said.
“The state has made a concerted effort to be involved in Ride to Work Day the last three years, to promote safety through that event,” he said.
“Oklahoma is not alone in the increase over the decades in motorcycle crashes and motorcycle fatalities. I think there was a realization at the national level, motorists needed to be more aware of the need to share the road with motorcyclists and to watch out for them.”
Sanders said he wishes more motorists and motorcyclists were not distracted while driving.
While he and his wife were riding on Lake Hefner Parkway on their way to a meeting in Enid, a vehicle almost drove into him.
“I'm in the middle lane, and a car got up beside us, and they swerved; I don't mean immediately, they just drifted, I should say, almost bumping me,” he said.
“I looked over and they have got one hand on the wheel and one doing the text message, so I gently nudged (with my foot) the side of the car and let him know that I was over there, and they pulled back.”
Some motorcyclists aren't so lucky. In 2011, 95 people were killed in motorcycle accidents on Oklahoma roadways. That was 13.6 percent of all traffic fatalities that year, Behrens said.
“That's just too many,” Behrens said. “A significant percentage of those were the result of people not noticing them. ... There's not much protection for that person on that motorcycle if you hit them. That's somebody's father or mother or husband, son or daughter on that motorcycle.
“Ninety-five people died in 2011. That's not just a number, those were all people — someone's loved ones.”
Behrens suggested motorcyclists get proper training using Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum to help riders avoid crashes and learn skills in handling a motorcycle.
For more on motorcycle safety and education, go to www.
Ninety-five people died in 2011. That's not just a number, those were all people — someone's loved ones.”
Oklahoma Advisory Committee for Motorcycle Safety