ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Officials warn that there’s a hidden crisis in Missouri — motorcyclists dying on state highways at a rate of well over 100 per year.

Mike Right with AAA of Missouri says each and every one of those deaths was likely avoidable, and often result from other motorists simply failing to see bikers.

“You actually have to look for them, and be aware that they’re out there, and certainly put down the cell phone, eliminate the texting and pay attention to your driving,” Right says.

Many of the accidents involved cars and trucks making left turns into the path of cyclists, who can’t stop in time.

Of course motorcycle riders can be at fault as well, and they’re cautioned to position themselves in the lane where they’re most visible to nearby drivers, and to wear brightly colored protective gear or have reflective tape on their rides for better visibility.

As for drivers sharing the road with motorcycles, they’re encouraged to always check blind spots before changing lanes, and leave a 3-to-4 second gap when following a motorcycle in traffic.

Nearly 500 motorcyclists have died on Missouri roads since 2012. Forty of the 122 bike riders killed on Missouri roads last year ignored the state’s mandatory helmet law.

Missouri officials are hoping to spread the word during “Motorcycle Awareness Month” in May to reverse the state’s sky-rocketing fatality rate. “Watch for Motorcycles” is the straight-to-the-point motto.

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