May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and drivers are being encouraged to raise their awareness of motorcyclists to help prevent crashes, deaths and injuries.
Organized by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this year’s ‘Share the Road’ campaign aims to raise motorists’ awareness of motorcycle safety challenges and riding practices to increase safety for all road users.
In 2014, 4,586 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, a decrease of 2.3 percent from 2013 (4,692). 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 2014. Injured motorcyclists also decreased from 93,000 in 2013 to 88,000 in 2014.
NHTSA estimates that 1,630 lives were saved in 2014 because of proper helmet usage, but another 715 lives could have been saved if helmets had been worn.
Below are some tips for 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.
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.
- 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.
Visit the NHTSA website for further information and resources.