New Mexico motorcyclist designs license plate encouraging safety

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — According to the NHTSA, motorcyclist deaths totaled more than 5,000 in 2021 – and 14% of all traffic fatalities nationwide.

51 of those deaths happened in New Mexico. Just this past weekend alone, there were two crashes involving motorcycles.

Now, safety advocates are trying to make sure the safety message isn’t just being heard.

“If somebody was driving along and they saw a license plate that said ‘look twice for motorcycles,’ I thought that is an instant safety initiative,” motorcyclist Richard Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon began designing the specialty license plate with that slogan.

“The big zia symbol, again we thank the zia pueblo for allowing us to put it on a plate. That and the motorcycle, I figured that would be the first thing people see,” Sturgeon explained.

Now, you can see it across New Mexico, thanks to a new state law.

“For people who are at stop lights or just driving around town, and they see that, they are going to be thinking about motorcycles for at least at that moment. If that gets somebody to look twice for motorcycles, think about motorcyclists, then it’s done its job,” Sturgeon stated.

Advocates say it’s not just up to drivers to be safe on the roads, either. That responsibility also rests on riders’ shoulders.

“We are asking for them to ride safely and ride safely. Don’t ride like fools. Sometimes there are some motorcyclists that we see and they are just zig-zagging. We’re asking them to be safe,” said Doug Anaya, the president of the Los Capellanes Motorcycle Ministry.

Advocates are also pushing for more training. For every specialty plate sold, a part of it will go toward a motorcycle training fund for NMDOT. That will provide driver awareness education and motorcycle training.

While MVD has sold over 100 plates, especially in the Albuquerque metro, the goal is to expand awareness across New Mexico.

“Statewide, a lot of motorcyclists will know that this plate is out there. Their loved ones can buy plates to let other people know, ‘Hey my husband, loved one, rides a motorcycle. Please look twice,” Sturgeon said.

There are some resources and programs available to help motorcyclists in case of an accident. Click here to learn more about that and also click here to see how you can get one of those specialty plates.