May is motorcycle awareness month. Hopefully you have noticed the signs urging you to “share the road” and “look twice for motorcycles”. As the weather warms up and people begin taking vacations the number of motorcycle riders on the road increase.
Many serious and fatal crashes occur when motorists turn in front of motorcyclists. Make sure to stay alert, especially at intersections and while making turns and lane changes. Studies indicate that in multiple-vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcyclists’ right-of-way and caused the collision in two-thirds of those crashes.
Troopers said it is difficult to time the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle. Before you drive through an intersection or make a left turn, check the position of oncoming motorcycles at least two or three times. Statistics show that multiple-vehicle crashes account for approximately 75 percent of all motorcycle accidents.
Tips to drivers on how to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle:
- Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
- Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
- Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
- Always allow more follow distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Never drive distracted or impaired.
While I think it is important to remind drivers that riders are on the road as riders we have a responsibility to take too. One of the first things my husband told me about safety was to assume that the vehicles around me didn’t see me. In the drivers safety course we were taught that we had to anticipate the cars around us next move and to always have an exit strategy and be prepared to take evasive maneuvers.
Motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these steps:
- Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
- Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
- Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn
- Be visible. Ensure your headlight, taillight and brake light work properly.
- Wear high visibility clothing.
- Use lane positioning to increase visibility and watch for turning vehicles.
- Avoid riding in blind spots.
By following basic safety rules, we can all help prevent crashes. “Our message is for all drivers and riders: Share the responsibility of keeping our roads safe—always share the road.” NHTSA
I have heard many riders say “it’s not a matter of if but when” in regards to an accident. That is why it is important to stay alert, carry a Motorcycle Operator First Aid Kit on your bike and take the accident scene management course.