Experts talk safety after deadly motorcycle crashes

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After three deadly motorcycle crashes in Wichita since the beginning of October, state troopers are asking drivers to watch out for riders. And riders are encouraged to practice safe riding habits.

“I hear all the time from folks that bought helmet from us, or other stores, and they always talk about how it saved their life,” said Lisa Greenwood, owner of a Wichita helmet shop, Xtremehelmets.

Kansas law does not require riders over 18 years old to wear helmets, and a helmet will not guarantee safety in a crash. About one third of the riders who died in Kansas in 2017 were wearing helmets, according to the most recent reports from the Kansas Department of Transportation. Still, helmets increase a rider’s chance of surviving a crash. If you’re in the market to buy one, Greenwood said you want to make sure you’re buying a helmet that is certified.

“Novelty helmets don’t have any regulation, and they’re not considered safe,” Greenwood said. “While they may look slimmer on your head, and they may look safe, it’s a misconception that they’re safe for street use.” Greenwood encourages riders to check for DOT, Snell, or other rigorous certifications before buying a helmet.

Brett Wells is organizing an “Iron Vet Ride” to Derby this weekend to honor fallen heroes. He said he always wears a helmet, but not all of his riding friends do the same.

“Majority of them do,” Wells said. “Some don’t. And that’s, you know, their right. I’m getting old. I’ve had too many poor life choices as a kid, and I’d like to keep as pretty as I am now.”

Wells said he was hurt in a crash on a race course, and his safety gear saved his life.

Riders looking to improve their safety and riding habits can take classes at places like Twister City Harley Davidson in Wichita.

“It’s a three-day course that offers all the fundamental training of how to navigate traffic and other situations,” said Rodger Kistler with Twister City. “I think that prepares you. As well as being prepared with your clothing, helmet, gloves, stuff like that, and then not riding outside of your skill level.”

Trooper Chad Crittenden with the Kansas Highway Patrol encourages drivers to “look small.” He said if you’re watching out for pedestrians, children, bicycles, deer or motorcycles, you won’t miss a larger car or truck.

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