May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Sometimes sarcastically called “murdercycles,” these fun rides can be and should be safer than they are. The fault with the high incidence of injuries and fatalities lies on both the motorcycle rider and the other motor vehicle drivers on our highways. When a crash occurs, the motorcycle rider has very little protection other than any protective clothing he may be wearing; consequently, fatalities and serious injuries are much higher among motorcycle riders. According to NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 26 times the number of fatalities in other motor vehicles (2013).
None other than Ralph “Sonny” Barger (Founding member of Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club) says “I always wear a DOT-approved full-face helmet, a leather jacket, jeans or leather chaps, boots and gloves. You will never see me riding around in shorts and flip-flops, without a helmet, even if I'm just riding down to the corner and it's 100 degrees out.” (AARP The Magazine, July/August 2011)
Tips for Motorcyclists Include:
- Always be alert and aware of your surroundings;
- Do your best to avoid positioning your bikes in a motorist's blind spot;
- Use your turn signals for every turn and lane change;
- Do not weave between lanes at high speeds;
- Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to be highly visible; and
- Avoid riding in bad weather conditions.
Tips for Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists Include:
- Allow greater following distance behind a motorcycle because it can stop more quickly than you can;
- Use extra caution at an intersection because intersections are especially dangerous;
- Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic;
- Do not try to share a lane with a motorcycle; give a motorcycle the full lane width; and
- Be aware that spring, summer and fall months are motorcycle rider months.
And the final and best tip for both motorcyclists and motorists is: never drive impaired nor distracted.