Utah campaign urges motorcyclists to ride safe
Highway safety • A new website offers a map that rates the difficulty of state roads for riders.
Published: May 29, 2014 10:29PM
Updated: May 29, 2014 09:41PM
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Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Sande Kellog rides her Can-Am Spyder along with members of the Utah Highway Patrol, and other police agencies and civilian riders rally in local news media outlet parking lots to share the latest tools aimed at reducing Utah motorcycle fatalities, Thursday, May 29, 2014

Now that the weather is warming up and motorcyclists are hitting the road, state officials have created a map that shows the relative difficulty of Utah’s routes for riders.

The Utah Department of Public Safety’s media campaign, Ride to Live Utah, debuted the map Thursday, with the hope of curbing the number of riders dying on the roads.

The map on the campaign website, RideToLiveUtah.org, rates Utah roads as easy, moderate or difficult for motorcyclists.

For instance, the Antelope Island road is deemed easy, while State Road 39 from Pineview Reservoir to Woodruff is rated moderate to difficult. The ratings are based on the steepness of the grades and tightness of the turns on a given road.

Motorcyclists are crashing and dying more often than people in cars. In the past three years, motorcycle deaths rose 10 percent, while other traffic fatalities fell 10 percent. This is partly due to drivers not keeping an eye out for motorcyclists while turning or changing lanes, according a campaign news release, but law enforcement wants motorcyclists to take responsibility for their own safety, too.

“Riders love to be on their motorcycles — you hear a lot of them talk about how they ‘live to ride,’ ” Utah Highway Patrol Col. Daniel Fuhr said in a statement. “We also want them to ride to live.”

So on Thursday, law enforcement officers and civilian motorcyclists hopped on their rides and traveled to television news stations around the Salt Lake Valley to draw attention to the media campaign.

The timing is no accident: of the 31 motorcycle deaths in Utah last year, 42 percent occurred during the summer, according to the release.

As part of the campaign, billboards will carry the message, “Ride like there’s no tomorrow, and there won’t be,” and radio spots will remind riders to “take responsibility for your ride, as well as your life.”

Historically, these media campaigns have focused on drivers, as well, reminding them of blind spots and to watch out for riders, said Steve Wright of the advertising managers, R&R Partners.

While the campaign website still features a list of tips for drivers, this year the organizers wanted to direct most of the campaign’s focus onto the riders “to be prepared for anything the road has to offer,” Wright said.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda