May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
American Motorcycle Association president Rob Dingman is alerting motorists to be aware of their driving environments, “With its warmer weather and increased riding, May is an opportune time to educate the non-riding public about the safety issues that motorcyclists face on every outing.”
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation motorcycle fatalities have been on the rise over the last 20 years by an average of 10% per year. Also, statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show their percentage of overall traffic fatalities and injuries have been steadily increasing.
As I have written previously, distracted driving continues to be a serious danger for all road users. It is no surprise that distractions are one of the top issues affecting motorcycle safety. Examples from the NHTSA include eating and drinking, talking to people in the vehicle, focusing on the navigation, stereo and entertainment system and talking or texting on a phone. Complicating the danger is the development of driver- assistance technology that has led some drivers to believe that there is less potential for harm from distractions on the road.
Suggestions for drivers, including the NHTSA tips on how to “Share the Road” with motorcycles include:
- Drivers should be aware that motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges as all vehicles.
- Motorcycles are small and difficult to see with casual scanning of the road. Look twice before pulling out or making a turn. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
- Allow the motorcyclist a full lane width. It may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a motorcycle and an automobile. Do not share a lane. Remember that a motorcycle needs room to maneuver safely and respect a motorcyclist’s space.
- When following a motorcycle give them plenty of space. Use the “4-second rule” to calculate a safe distance. When the motorcycle passes a fixed object begin counting and make sure you do not reach that object for at least 4 seconds.
- Beware of a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Riders may forget to turn them off and the signals may not be self- cancelling. Wait to be sure that the motorcycle is going to turn before proceeding.
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By Beth Cole