CAPE ELIZABETH — May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the Cape Elizabeth Police Department is raising awareness for motorcycle safety. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is partnering with the Cape Elizabeth Police Department to raise awareness for motorcycle safety as the weather in Maine begins to bring warmer temperatures, people bring out their motorcycles, and road travel season begins.

“There are still a lot of extra hazards during the beginning of the season and is probably the most dangerous time for motorcycle riders,” said Paul Fenton, police chief for Cape Elizabeth.   “We are just trying to raise awareness, reminding people to look, and be a little bit more patient. People need to remember to slow down on the road and not be distracted. When it comes to motorcycles there is no margin for error,” 

The safety administration reported 5,579 motorcyclists killed in 2020, an increase from 5,044 in 2019. According to the administration, one of the primary contributing factors to motorcyclist deaths is speeding with alcohol impairment also playing a significant role in motorcycle involved crash fatalities.  

“There has been a little bit of a spike in motorcycle accidents in the last couple of years just because overall people are more distracted,” Fenton said. “We are continuing to do our distracted driving details which are for all traffic safety issues. We want people to make sure they keep their eyes and attention on driving and not all the numerous other distractions that occur inside or outside the vehicle.”

May is motorcycle Awareness Month/ Courtesy Photo

Motorcyclists should wear high-visibility personal protective gear and Department of Transportation compliant helmets. Helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017. The safety administration said that 749 lives could have been saved if riders wore helmets. The administration stated that finding the right helmet for riders will make rides more comfortable. Tips for finding the right helmet include shape, size, and style. Riders should make sure their helmet has the DOT symbol on the back of the helmet. The symbol means it meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.  


In 2019, 30 percent of motorcycles involved in fatal crashes were due to individuals riding without a valid motorcycle license. The state of Maine requires residents to successfully complete a rider education program. Applicants must be 16 years of age and applicants are $35. The basic rider course is required for all new riders. The 15-hour course includes classroom instruction with hands-on training. A written test and a motorcycle skills test are administered at the completion of the basic rider course.

According to Fenton, there are numerous places that offer safety classes for people to attend. He also suggests riders take a safety class during the beginning of the season as a refresher. 

“There is no margin for error with motorcycles,” Fenton said. “It is rarely you get a motorcycle accident and there isn’t someone injured or not severely injured, as opposed to a vehicle. There is no absorption for the crash people get launched off their bikes and sustain serious injuries.” 

There are numerous ways to help reduce the number of facilities and injuries on roadways. Drivers and riders should observe all traffic laws, obey the speed limit, drive, ride defensively, and yield to motorcyclists, especially while turning at intersections. Drivers should avoid distractions that place themselves, other drivers, and motorcyclists at risk. The police department urges drivers to share the road and be alert. Riders should look out for themselves and do not always trust people are going to see them or yield to them. 

“We always encourage riders to take safety classes, do good inspections of their bikes, start off slow during the beginning of the season, get used to their bike and riding again, always look out for hazards, have the proper gear with you, and wearing the proper gear while riding,” said Fenton. “Sometimes with the good weather, the temptation is there to enjoy the cool breeze and take your jacket off or take your helmet off, we always suggest everyone remember safety first and to make sure you have the right gear and equipment and something visible to the public as well, something with a florescent to catch people’s eyes so you don’t blend in.”  

For more information about motorcycle safety visit, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

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