Did you know that May is “Motorcycle Awareness Month”? Motorcycles have grown more popular each year, and the Spring season brings out riders just like the April showers and warm sunshine brings “May flowers.”
Unfortunately, on a per vehicle mile basis, motorcyclists are over 30 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of cars, and five times more likely to be injured.
We recognize two factors at play — one that we don’t want commercial drivers becoming involved in collisions with motorcycles (regardless of fault/cause) and even if there’s no physical contact with a rider, the wind disruption from larger commercial vehicles could (in theory) cause an inexperienced rider to fall.
Giving riders a wide berth, and educating riders about driving safely near larger trucks are both good strategies.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a dedicated web page just for motorcycle safety issues. (http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles)
Further, NHTSA offers the following urgent reminders:
- Road users are reminded to never drive, bike, or walk while distracted. Doing so can result in tragic consequences for motorcyclists.
- A motorcycle has the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle on the roadway.
- Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
- Because motorcycles are small, they can be difficult for other road users to see them, or judge their speed and distance as they approach.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
- Because of its smaller size, a motorcyclist can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Always 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 motorcyclists sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the rider 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.
- Allow more following distance — three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle so the motorcycle rider has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
Additional insights for both riders, motorists and commercial operators can be found at http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/newtsm/op-motorcycles/TalkingPointsFactSheet2013.doc