Motorcycle riding has its joys and hazards, which is why the month of May was designated National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office – which has four Sheriff’s Officers certified to ride police motorcycles and two more in training – wants all passenger vehicle motorists and motorcyclists to stay safe year-round and recognize that both have equal rights to be on the roads.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office has two motorcycles – 2018 Harley Davidson Road Kings – that are shared by Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement Detective Corporal Dave Kenny and Corporal Brian Ahern, and Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Corporal Pete Lohmus and Sergeant Bob Doriety, all of whom are certified to ride motorcycles as law enforcement officers.
Bureau of Corrections Officer Michael Locke and Bureau of Law Enforcement Corporal Ryan Warnett currently are in training to achieve certification. The Sheriff’s Office’s Motorcycle Unit is part-time, with its officers conducting escorts, property security checks, and assisting with crowd control at large events.
On May 17, Detective Corporal Kenny, Corporal Warnett, Sergeant Doriety and Officer Locke joined Florham Park Police Officer Charlie Greenstein at a borough parking lot to practice tight maneuvers and quick turnarounds on their motorcycles in a coned obstacle course. Among the goals were making tight turns without dropping the motorcycle or toppling the cones, and slowing down without stalling the engine.
Once certification is achieved, Corporal Kenny said, officers in the motorcycle unit must put in at least 16 hours of additional training annually.
Motorcyclists can be vulnerable on the roads because they don’t have the protection of a car’s steel tonnage. Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon is recommending some safety tips for both passenger vehicles and motorcycles, based upon advisories by the National Safety Council, National Highway Safety Administration and Cycle World:
- Motorcyclists must decrease speed in rainy weather, particularly when approaching intersections, as braking time is increased on slick roads
- Passenger vehicles and motorcyclists should never share the same travel lane. A motorcycle is entitled to the same lane width as a passenger vehicle
- Motorcyclists must be mindful that oils in pavement surface in the rain and may cause hydroplaning
- Motorcyclists should wear anti-fog visors, breath guards or visors with an electric defroster function
- Motorcyclists must use turn signals for every turn or lane change, the same as a passenger vehicle
- Passenger car motorists must allow greater following distance behind a motorcycle
- Drivers must be extra cautious at intersections. Crashes occur when drivers fail to see motorcyclists and turn left in front of them
- Motorcyclists should position their cycles to avoid driver’s blind spots
- Like passenger vehicle drivers, motorcyclists must not run yellow lights.