May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather gets warmer, which is why May is the perfect month for Motorcycle Safety Awareness. Fatal crashes with motorcycles are on the rise, and helmet usage is on the decline. We all need to be more aware of motorcyclists in order to save lives.
In 2013, 4,668 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a decrease from 2012 (4,986). Those deaths account for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year, despite motorcycle registrations representing only 3 percent of all vehicles in the United States in 2013.
Helmet usage remained the same from 2012 to 2013 at 60 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 1,630 lives were saved in 2013 because of proper helmet usage, but another 715 lives could have been saved if helmets had been worn. Wearing a helmet is an important way for a motorcyclist to stay safe, but we all play a part. It’s up to all motorists and motorcyclists to make our roads safer. All road users need to share the responsibility of keeping the roadways safe.
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.
- 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.
- Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
- Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
- Never ride distracted or impaired.