When spring is in the air, motorcycles are everywhere. Do you long for the freedom that comes with riding on the open road? Then it’s critical to respect your machine and improve your skills throughout your lifetime.
But that’s only half the story. Motorists interested only in four-wheeled vehicles still have a major responsibility in keeping motorcyclists safe on the road.
In recognition of National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, the National Safety Council reminds riders – and drivers – to do their part.
In 2016, 4,976 motorcycle riders and passengers died in crashes, and nonfatal injuries that year totaled 88,000, according to Injury Facts® 2017, the statistical compendium on unintentional deaths and injuries published by NSC. Fatalities among motorcycle riders and passengers have increased nearly 3% from 2006, driven largely by an 8% increase in 2015.
- Motorcycles make up 3% of all registered vehicles and only .7% of all vehicle miles traveled in the U.S.
- Motorcyclists accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities in 2016
- 26% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2016 were alcohol-impaired
- 91% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2016 were male
Riders 50 and older made up 36% of all motorcycle fatalities in 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. So-called “re-entry riders,” who rode in their 20s and decided to take it up again in their late 40s to 60s face additional challenges today: more traffic, more powerful bikes, more distracted drivers and diminished physical skills.
If you’re going to ride a motorcycle, it’s important to commit to a lifetime of learning new skills and brushing up on the old ones.
Motorists making left turns at intersections are one of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes, due to motorists’ difficulty judging the distance and speed of motorcycles.
A motorcyclist’s “braking” is not always obvious to motorists. Motorcycles decelerate faster than vehicles, so motorcyclists will often downshift instead of applying the brake, especially when driving around a curve. This means the brake lights will not be engaged to signal motorists of deceleration or an upcoming stop.
Drivers — please follow these safety tips to be more aware of motorcycles and to help keep all on our roadways safe:
- Slow down, assess your surroundings, and don’t rush when crossing intersections, entering the roadway from a parking lot or driveway, or turning left. Always give yourself enough time to thoroughly check for motorcyclists.
- When turning left, ensure there is enough time and space for the motorcyclist to clear the roadway before you initiate the left turn.
- Don’t follow motorcyclists too closely and allow sufficient braking cushion between your vehicle and the motorcycle in front of you to give your vehicle enough room to come to a complete stop without a collision. Remember, a motorcyclist’s brake lights might not always be engaged when a motorcycle decelerates.
- Always double-check your blind spots when changing lanes or starting to entering or exiting the roadways. Adjust your rear- and side-view mirrors and use them properly.
If someone you know drives a motorcycle, tell him or her to always wear a helmet—even if the law doesn’t require it.
According to NHTSA, an estimated 740 lives could have been saved in 2015 if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
More about motorcycle safety:
National Highway Transportation Safety Agency