012913 _ COPS motorcycleThe Santa Monica Police Department this Saturday will be cracking down on reckless motorcyclists in an effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries involving those riding on two wheels.

Extra officers will be on duty patrolling areas frequented by motorcyclists and where accidents commonly occur, said SMPD Lt. Richard Lewis.

Officers will be looking for violations commonly made by drivers of passenger vehicles and motorcyclists that lead to collisions, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, making illegal turns and failing to stop at stop signs.

Motorcycle fatalities dropped by 37 percent from 2008 to 2010, but rose nearly 18 percent in 2011, Lewis said. Operations like this are aimed at curbing any more rises in motorcycle deaths and sending the numbers back downward.

California collision data reveals that primary causes of motorcycle-involved crashes include speeding, unsafe turning and impairment due to alcohol and other drugs.

The SMPD is also reminding all motorists to always be alert and watch out for motorcycles, especially when turning and changing lanes.

The message to all drivers and motorcyclists is to do your part by safely “sharing the road,” Lewis said. Riders can get training through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program. Information and training locations are available at www.CA-msp.org or (877) RIDE 411 or (877) 743-3411.

Funding for this operation is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.