Cooler fall temps have you itching to jump on a motorcycle? Read this first...

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Fall has officially arrived in Arizona, and for thousands across the state, the cooler weather means it's time to dust off the Harley.

I have to admit, I'm in love with the idea of being on a motorcycle, riding through scenic Jerome, Sedona, Payson, or along Route 66, with the wind flowing through my hair, the sun on my face, and only the open road in front of me.

With that said, I'm also kind of a scaredy-cat. I'd much rather be on the back of a motorcycle than operating one myself, and even then, I've got to be convinced that I'm good and prepared for the elements and dangerous situations riders encounter on a daily basis.

THE STATS

According to data from the Arizona Department of Transportation, motorcycle registrations have continually increased each year, with 2016 so far having more than 203,000 registered motorcycle riders in Arizona.

With that said, there were more than 3000 motorcycle crashes in Arizona last year. Of those, more than 2500 people were injured, and 144 were killed.

It's a startling statistic: 144 deaths in Arizona due to motorcycle crashes. 

Both riders and drivers have to do their parts now more than ever to prevent these tragedies. We can all agree that the majority of vehicles on the road are not motorcycles. They're cars, vans and trucks. I know personally, as a driver, I rarely think about motorcycles unless I clearly see one near me.

I also know that I'm not the only one. This is a problem. "When motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it is usually the other (non-motorcycle) driver who violates the motorcyclist's right of way," according to an issue statement from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. "There is a continuing need to help other motorists 'think' motorcycles and to educate motorcyclists to be aware of this problem."

SKILL AND GEAR CAN SAVE LIVES

A helmet is the most important accessory a biker can wear. In 2016, at least 77 motorcyclists who died in Arizona were not wearing a helmet. Wear a helmet! The NHTSA recommends a full-coverage helmet because it offers the most protection. Look for the DOT sticker, which guarantees the helmet meets safety standards required by law. Never buy a used helmet; helmets are useless after they've been worn in a crash.

The National Safety Council has these additional words of wisdom: Choose a bike that fits you; "supersport bikes" have driver death rates about four times that of cruisers or standard bikes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

More advice?

  • Invest in antilock brakes.
  • New riders should take a motorcycle safety course, and experienced riders should take refresher courses after being off their bikes for a while.
  • Know the rules of the road.
  • Be aware that riding with a passenger requires considerably more skill.
  • Never drink and ride.
  • Drive defensively, especially at intersections, where half of all collisions occur.
  • Watch for hazards like potholes, manhole covers, oil slicks, puddles, debris, railroad tracks and gravel.
  • Assume you are invisible to other motorists and position yourself to be seen.
  • Use headlights day and night.
  • Be courteous; don't weave in and out of lanes, or ride on the shoulder or between lanes.
  • Don't speed.
  • Wear bright and/or reflective clothing that is thick and protective. Choose long-sleeves and pants, boots that cover the ankles, and gloves. Remember, the only thing between you and the road is your protective gear.
  • Wear goggles, glasses or use a face shield that is ventilated to prevent fogging, and make sure it's clear if riding at night.

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