The Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting two specialized Motorcycle Safety Enforcement Operations Saturday and Sunday, July 2 and 3, in an effort to continue reducing the number of motorcycle-related deaths and injuries.

During the campaign, additional officers will be patrolling areas in the city frequented by motorcyclists and where motorcycle crashes are prone to occur. Officers will be cracking down on traffic violations made by motorcyclists as well as other vehicle drivers that can lead to motorcycle collisions, injuries and fatalities.

Motorcycle fatalities had been on the rise in California, increasing by 175 percent in 10 years, from 204 deaths in 1998 to 560 deaths in 2008, police said. That trend has stopped and data shows a 30 percent decrease, to 394 motorcyclist deaths in 2009. Despite this dramatic improvement, California remains one of three states that lead the nation in motorcyclist deaths, police note.

California collision data reveals that the primary causes of motorcycle-involved crashes include speeding, unsafe turning, and impairment due to alcohol and other drugs. The Santa Monica Police Department is reminding all motorists to always be alert and watch out for motorcycles, especially when turning and changing lanes.

Another major factor leading to motorcycle crashes is inexperience. Between 2006 and 2008, 58 percent of motorcyclist fatalities under age 25 involved riders who were not properly licensed, statistics show.

“Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than others sharing the road,” said California Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy. “Motorcyclists require special skills and abilities to reduce their risk of being involved in a crash.”

Motorcyclists can get skill level training and safety information through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program. Information and training locations are available at www.CA-msp.org, or (877) 743-3411.

Funding for this enforcement program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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