May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

May 05, 2017 View Comments by

Five Ways to Become a Safer Rider

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and government agencies and safety organizations are reminding both motorists and motorcycle drivers to practice safety while on the road.

Motorcycle fatalities have been on the rise an average of 10 percent per year over the last 20 years, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Motorcycles account for less than five percent of registered vehicles in the U.S., but they travel some 21 million miles each year. Per vehicle traveled, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists were more than 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash.

As riders, how can we be safer on the road?

  • ATGATT. Wear your protective gear all the time, no matter how short the ride—especially a full-face helmet. A rider not wearing a helmet is five times more likely to sustain a critical head injury. When purchasing a new lid, look for the Snell or DOT safety sticker, ensure a snug fit, and care for it well.
  • Be seen. Wear reflective clothing and put reflective tape on your clothing and motorcycle. Consider adding auxiliary lights to your ride, too.
  • Know your motorcycle. Conduct pre-ride checks.
  • Practice safe riding techniques. Though we never recommend riding in adverse road and weather conditions, Mother Nature happens; know how to handle your bike.
  • Take a class. In North Carolina, BikeSafe is inviting motorcyclists to participate in a free “Rider Skills Day” class that offers an assessment of your current skills. Look for similar programs in your state. Better yet, brush up on your skills at an MSF course—and invite a non-rider friend to join.
  • Use common sense. Obey speed limits, put a generous distance between you and other vehicles, and ride sober.

Seventy-five percent of two-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles were motorcyclists colliding with vehicles in front of them: drivers turning left while the motorcycles were going straight, etc.

NHTSA offers several tips for drivers on how to “Share the Road” with motorcycles:

  • A motorcycle has the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle on the roadway.
  • Allow the motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem there is enough room in the traffic lane for an automobile and a motorcycle, remember the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
  • Motorcycles are small and may be difficult to see. A motorcycle has a much smaller profile than a vehicle, which can make it more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle.
  • Remember that a motorcyclist can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look due to its smaller size. Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – motorcycle signals may not be self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
  • Remember that road conditions that are minor annoyances to motorists can pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders may change speed or adjust position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.

Spread the word. For more information, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers safety booklets, downloadable Rider Course handbooks, videos, quick tips, white papers, and more.


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