It’s a good idea to be aware of safety issues all year long. But May brings us a plethora of traffic safety campaigns, such as Global Youth Traffic Safety Month and National Bicycle Month. May also brings us Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a campaign by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that tries to persuade drivers and motorcyclists to "share the road" with each other. Ultimately the campaign is trying to make the highways a safer place for motorcyclists.
According to NHTSA in 2014, almost 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a decrease of 2.3 percent from 2013. Those deaths in 2014 accounted for 14 percent of all highway fatalities that year. The last year over year decrease in motorcycle fatalities was in 2009. Also the number of total injured motorcyclists decreased from 93,000 in 2013 to 88,000 in 2014. With the help of the Motorcycle Safety Awareness campaign, hopefully the number of injuries and fatalities will continue to decline. We have provided some tips for motorists and motorcyclists below to make sure that we all "share the road" and stay safe.
Tips for Motorcycle Safety
1. Always wear a helmet
According to the NHTSA, in 2014, 41 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists and 53 percent of motorcycle passengers were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. Helmets can stop motorcyclists and passengers from sustaining serious head trauma.
2. Wear clothing that protects you from a fall
Like wearing a helmet, wearing clothing that properly protects you is important. If you were to get in an accident, wearing a leather jacket, gloves, pants that fit correctly and proper shoes can protect you from painful external injuries.
3. Follow the rules of the road/Practice Defensive Riding
Make sure that you follow the rules of the road. Ride your motorcycle the same way you would drive. Pay attention to speed limits and always give yourself enough space. Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure you ride defensively, be aware of your surroundings and what other motorists are doing. Many accidents are caused because motorists are not paying attention to motorcyclists.
4. Allow greater following distance behind a motorcyclist
This tip is for motorists sharing the road with motorcyclists. Make sure that if you are driving behind a motorcycle, that there is a substantial amount of distance between you.
5. Take a safety course/training
Most states require you take a safety course before getting your motorcycle license. It is important and necessary to learn the basic skills to ride a motorcycle before getting out on the highway. Even if your state doesn’t require that you take a course, you should. It will reduce your chance of being in an accident and it could also lower your insurance rates.
6. Keep up on maintenance of your bike
Just like you make sure your car is running properly, make sure that your motorcycle is also running as it should. Check your tire pressure and lights often.
7. Don’t share lanes with motorcyclists, always give them full lane width
If you are a motorist it is important to give motorcyclists the full lane. You may think there is enough room but motorcyclists still need room to maneuver.
8. Drive with extra caution at intersections. Most accidents involving motorists and motorcyclists are due to drivers failing to see motorcyclists.
Motorists should use extreme caution when switching lanes or driving through intersections. Many times you will not see motorcyclists approaching, and may cause an accident.
9. Motorcyclists should avoid riding in bad weather conditions
Avoid riding your motorcycle in inclement weather as much as possible. Slick roads can be an extreme hazard and make it even harder for riders to stop on time.
10. Motorcyclists should try to avoid driver's blind spots
Do not ride in a motorist's blind spot. If they can't see you they may cut you off and cause a catastrophic accident.
11. Always use turn signals at every turn or lane change
Signaling is important for any modes of transportation; cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. Make sure to signal every time so that other drivers and riders on the roads are aware of your next move.
12. Do NOT ride while drunk, high, or distracted
Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in an accident than someone in a car. That’s without factoring in alcohol. Just like with driving a car it is extremely dangerous to operate a motorcycle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. DUI costs around $10,000 or more and could lead to jail time or even death.