COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio ranks fifth in the country when it comes to the number of licensed motorcyclists with 400,000 riders, according to the state.
Heading into the summer, more motorcyclists will be on the road. According to Motorcycle Ohio, more of those riders aren't trained in large part because of the pandemic.
"There's a lot more motorcyclists, a lot more sales and a lot less people riding trained," said Heather Wilson and motorcycle safety instructor with Motorcycle Ohio.
In Ohio, helmets are optional and there's no mandatory training for motorcyclists.
In 2021, 212 motorcyclists lost their lives, which is a 55% increase compared to 2020. Of those, 166 were not wearing helmets, according to the state. For comparison, 136 motorcyclists died in 2020 and 121 the year before.
More than 21% of riders who died in 2021 were wearing a helmet. In 2021, 21.7% of riders died wearing a helmet. That compares to 2020 when 29% died while wearing a helmet and in 2019 21% died while wearing a helmet, according to Motorcycle Ohio.
Experts say helmets and proper training can save lives.
"We teach counterweighing which is basically letting the motorcycle lean in as your upper body is leaning out and that really helps to balance the motorcycle," Wilson said.
Additionally, Wilson said wearing the proper gear is also important to reducing injury. She recommends wearing pants and jackets with armor along with riding boots to prevent injury.
On Tuesday, Motorcycle Ohio will also present the Saved by the Helmet award to three recipients.
The award is given throughout the year to those who survive serious crashes while wearing a helmet. The event begins at 10 a.m. at The Ohio Department of Public Safety.