The month of May means warmer weather, more motorcycles on the road, and unfortunately more motorcycle accidents. In an effort to make our nation’s roads safer for motorcyclists, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) celebrates Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month each May.
Motorists can increase safety for bikers and other motorists in a number of ways:
Motorcyclists have the same rights to the road as the average passenger car. Allow them the same courtesies you give to other drivers.
The main reason bikers are at an increased risk of an accident is the size of their vehicle. Much smaller than a car, a motorcycle can easily hide in a driver’s blind spot unintentionally. The popular catchphrase “look twice, save a life” is not only catchy, but key in ensuring motorcyclists remain safe in traffic. Slow down and take extra time to look for motorcycles, especially when turning left at an intersection.
Rearview and side-view mirrors are paramount in reducing the size of a vehicle’s blind spots. If you have not adjusted them properly, you may be unable to see motorcycles, cyclists, pedestrians, and even other cars in adjacent lanes.
Double-checking for motorcycles when changing lanes is important, but letting them know your intentions to change lanes is also key. When you use a turn signal, the biker has the opportunity to prevent a crash by changing lanes, speeding up, or slowing down.
The road conditions you never think twice about, such as gravel, cracks in the pavement, standing water, potholes, and railroad tracks, can be deadly hazards to a biker. Avoiding these hazards may necessitate evasive maneuvers which require time and room to move. Always maintain a safe following distance (e.g., three or four car lengths) to make sure you have time to stop if the biker in front of you sees a hazard.
Texting, emailing, or using a cell phone without a hands-free connection while driving is not only illegal — it can be deadly. Distracted driving causes crashes every day, and motorcycles — with their small size and low visibility — are at a particular risk. Before you get in the car, put your phone on silent or put it in the glove box.