WAXAHACHIE — Sharing the road is a message that Waxahachie residents Jimmy and Vanessa Vaughn take to heart each time hit the open highway on the back of a motorcycle. Since 2003, the couple has worked to spread the message of safety and awareness through a program called "Ride Safe in Texas."

On Tuesday, the Ellis County Commissioners Court recognized the importance of promoting safety between motorists and motorcycles. The commissioners have officially designated May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month in the county.

“Every year we do two campaigns. The first campaign is the proclamations (with local governments) that start March 1 and ends the last day of May. Then the share the road signs starts on June 1 and ends on November 1,” Vanessa said. “There are a lot of mayors that participate across Texas and a lot of bikers. The mayors let the residents in the community know to watch for motorcycles and to help reduce the number of accidents and fatalities in their community.”

Vanessa said, over the years, they have lost a lot of friends in motorcycle accidents and thought that this was a way they could help honor their lives through the creation of this program.

Through the "share the road" sign program more than 80 signs promoting safety have been installed in Ellis County and more than 100 in Johnson County. They are also looking to place 75 signs in Collin and 100 signs in Hood County. Each sign is orange in color and reads "Share the road. Watch for motorcycles. We watch for you."

“I know that we are making a difference because the number that TxDOT puts out on the motorcycle accidents and fatalities is decreasing. I know that we are doing something here in Texas that is making a difference,” Vanessa said. “We work across the state because there are so many riders that are working with us. We just provide the tools they need and they go out there and get it done. They are the heroes of this program. They just stick together.”

The Texas Department of Transportation has also designated May as its statewide motorcycle safety campaign called “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles.”

“On average, a motorcyclist dies in a crash on Texas roads every day. In 2016, 493 riders lost their lives and 2,006 were seriously injured in motorcycle crashes. About half of fatal motorcycle crashes result from a car or truck colliding with it, often because drivers simply don’t see it or misjudge how close it is and how fast it’s traveling,” a TxDOT press release states. “The small size of motorcycles compared to other vehicles on the road means they can appear to be farther away than they are, and it’s easy to misjudge their speed. The combination of congested roadways, distracted driving, and the difficulty of seeing motorcycles in traffic has led to far too many preventable fatalities each year.”

Jimmy said shared Vanessa’s feelings about the program and the importance of promoting safety on the road.

“Every year you get more and more riders. You have got driver’s ed[ucation] turning loose new drivers, but you also got new riders. When we got SB 1967 enacted it made it mandatory for riders to take a motorcycle safety course in order to get their Class M license. That helped out a lot too because you have taken an inexperienced rider learning by trial and error like we used to back in the day and given them some tools to work with,” Jimmy said. “By doing what we do and putting the awareness out there, it helps increase in the mindset and maybe a little behavior change of the general driving public.”

The Vaughn’s also thanked the city councils, mayors and county officials throughout the state that have shown their support for the program.

People who want more information about motorcycle safety, motorcycle factory or parts recalls or to request a yard sign promoting motorcycle safety, visit the Vaughns' website at www.ridesafeintexas.homestead.com.

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