Operation Ride Smart

By Julie Montanaro
October 24, 5:20pm

Fatalities from motorcycle crashes are on the rise in Florida and in the City of Tallahassee.

Police are urging bikers to adjust their attitude and start putting safety first. They point to a fellow Harley rider as living proof it matters.

Rick Clevenger suffered 14 broken bones and a host of internal injuries when he was struck by a truck and thrown from his motorcycle last month.

"I remember the impact and sailing through the air and landing on the pavement," he said.

He had started wearing a helmet only weeks earlier.

"I'm just so happy to be here and alive from the ordeal," said Rick Clevenger. "I wouldn't have given you a plug nickel for me laying there on the street."

The stats are staggering. Motorcycle deaths in Florida are at an all time high and have nearly doubled since Florida repealed its mandatory helmet law in 2000. In Tallahassee there’s a troubling trend too; five deaths and 21 serious injuries in the past three years.

"We know that proper training and safety equipment save lives," said Tallahassee Police Chief Walt McNeil. "I urge all motorcycle operators to take the challenge, make sure you that you're trained, licensed, and that you're wearing your helmet."

Tallahassee Police are launching Operation Ride Smart, trying to encourage more riders to wear helmets and take motorcycle safety courses before saddlin' up.

"Put that lid on. It'll save your brains!" said Clevenger.

Clevenger says the soaring fatality rates made him a believer in helmets, and though he is not yet walking proof that they save lives, he is living proof. Florida law will soon require all those seeking a motorcycle license to take a motorcycle safety course first.

The majority of those hurt or killed in crashes in Tallahassee did not have that "motorcycle endorsement" on their license.