May is Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois, which is good because Illinois motorcycle deaths are rising while the death toll falls nationally.
The 5.6 percent drop in fatalities across the nation in 2017 may be tied to the hurricanes that battered Florida and Texas where bikers like to ride, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. But Illinois had four unseasonably mild months last year that were perfect for riding.
Also, motorcycles account for 3 percent of the state's vehicle registration, but 15 percent of the crash fatalities, biker and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner recently pointed out. Look a little deeper and motorcycles are actually involved in only 1.2 percent of crashes, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
So riders have less chance of a crash, but a lot less chance of surviving for the obvious reason that there's little to absorb an impact other than your body.
Still, there are ways to cut the fatalities. Most involve personal responsibility.
Passenger vehicle drivers can "Start Seeing Motorcycles" as IDOT exhorts. That doesn't mean you flip a magic switch and make them visible, but rather you look for them and expect them.
Illinois doesn't require helmets like Missouri and 46 other states do, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be responsible to your family and wear one.
The national deaths are shifting from younger riders to those over 40. Drinking, distracted driving and older riders getting on bikes that are too powerful for their slowing reaction times get the blame there.
It's a beautiful May. The birds are chirping and the Harleys are rumbling. It would be a shame to ruin the freedom of the road by being confined to a narrow pine box.