For nearly two decades motorcycle clubs in Ellis County have advocated for motorcycle safety and awareness. This year, as in most years past, the Ellis County commissioners are emphasizing awareness due to distracted drivers on roadways.
Commissioners spread over 80 motorcycle safety and awareness and "Share the Road" signs around Ellis County. The local biker clubs partnered with the county a few years back and ever since the commissioners have made it their duty to maintain the signage.
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Lane Grayson said this was not a new effort and admitted to being the only commissioner with a motorcycle license.
“We are doing our part to identify to our traveling public that there are guys and gals that continue to motorcycle on our county roadways and we want to make them aware of those folks who are using it,” Grayson said.
Grayson immediately explained the reason why the signs are vital in 2018 — “because we are a texting society.”
“We are the most distracted drivers out there. And, we need to bring awareness — not just for motorcycles out there but all motor vehicle operators not paying attention to our roadways," Grayson elaborated. "And, I’ll be the first to say I’m guilty but I’m also doing my part to not be that individual and the best way to do that is by bringing awareness.”
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Kyle Butler described how the signs were placed strategically in each precinct. Individuals in motorcycle clubs spoke with the commissioners and pointed out roadways frequently traveled that were more hazardous than others.
The signs were also placed where there is heavy motorcycle traffic whether that be daily rides or weekend specials. Butler expressed how he feels motorists are not self-conscious about two-wheeled vehicles.
“Well automatically when you’re driving down the road, you’re looking for a car, not a motorcycle in regular traffic. I think that plays a big part in it,” Butler explained.
Grayson commented on the various riding community as "honoring" and detailed how they were collaborative in this effort. He said the community is vocal about how roadways can be endangering.
From a commissioner’s standpoint, Grayson emphasized on resisting phone usage while driving. He asked for people to encourage their family and friends on this task to potentially save the life of a motorist.
“In reality, you are riding a motor," Grayson said. "The truth of the matter is when you get hit there are no walls or airbags to protect you. All you’ve got is a helmet between you and the pavement.”
According to the Center for Transportation Safety, Texas had over 400,000 registered motorcyclists in 2016.
The Texas Department of Transportation reported at least one motorcyclist was killed daily on Texas roadways in 2016. Motorcyclist fatalities are 28 times more frequent than passenger car occupant fatalities, nationally.
Vanessa Vaughn, also known as "Buttrfly," shared how motorcyclists initiated the statewide effort. She purchased the awareness signs from the state and then donated them to the county for the commissioners to distribute.
“I began this program in 2001, and it really took off in 2003 with other cities and counties interested working with us,” Vaughn explained. “Then in 2005, a lot of the motorcycle clubs got involved when they asked to adopt this into their organization.”
On May 8, the County Commissioners Court proclaimed May to be “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.” The month prior, Waxahachie Mayor Kevin Strength reiterated the same proclamation on the courthouse steps.
“They were very supportive of us and motorcycle awareness and whatever they could do to keep residents in their precincts safer on the roadways and in Ellis County,” Vaughn expressed. “They realize the need for motorcycle awareness and did what they could.”
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450