May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As the weather begins to improve, more motorcyclists will bring their motorcycles out of storage. If you’re a rider, this is an exciting time of year. If you’re a motorist, it’s important to be on the lookout.
Unfortunately, motorcyclist deaths occur 28 times more frequently than deaths of occupants in other vehicles. In 2017, 5,172 motorcyclists lost their lives. While deaths were down 114 people from 2016, it’s way too many.
While I don’t own a motorcycle, I do enjoy riding on two wheels. I enjoy riding my Trek bicycle and my Yamaha Zuma scooter. Both rides have me sharing the road with other motorists. Often motorists don’t see me even though I wear bright colors and have headlights and tail lights that are extremely bright during daylight hours.
Not all motorcycle accidents are the result of a collision with another vehicle. Animals, debris on the road, and not wearing a helmet can all contribute to injuries and death.
Here are some safety tips for motorists, as well as all two wheeled enthusiasts.
Double check your blind spots. Because of their speed and size, motorcycles may quickly come in and out of your blind spots. Always take a second look now that motorcycles are out on the road.
Assess your surroundings. Always be on the lookout when approaching intersections or making a left-hand turn. Covering the brake pedal is a good idea as you drive through an intersection.
Allow plenty of distance. Allow plenty of distance between you and a motorcycle when braking. A motorcyclist may not always use their breaks when decelerating. They may be decelerating by down shifting or simply letting off the gas.
Watch out for flashing turn signals. Turn signals on motorcycles may not be self-canceling and the motorcyclist may have forgotten to turn it off. Wait to be sure the rider is going to turn before you proceed.
Know and follow the laws. Safe passing laws require a motor vehicle to allow no less than three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist. The Dooring law states that a person in a parked car DOES NOT have the right to open the door at any time. A driver or passenger may only open a door when it’s reasonably safe and doesn’t interfere with the movement of traffic.
Watch for road debris. Especially right after winter, road debris is a big concern. There can be a build up of salt and sand on the side of the road if you haven’t had a good, steady, heavy rain in your area. This could result in slippery conditions.
Watch out for potholes. After a brutal winter, potholes can be found in new places. Hitting one could send you flying or severely damage your motorcycle.
Wear a DOT compliant helmet. You’re much more likely to sustain major injuries in a traffic collision if you don’t wear your helmet. Wearing it always when operating a motorcycle is crucial.
Watch for animals. If you’re riding after dusk in the country or through wooded areas, consider reducing your speed. Hitting an animal at a high rate of speed can send you flying. In addition, never swerve to miss striking the animal. This can put you in the lane of oncoming traffic or driving towards a tree. Brake as hard as you can until impact.
Navigate turns cautiously. Accidents are very common on curves and bends in the road. Pay attention to signs warning of curves and slow down to the suggested speed limit.
Pay attention to the weather. Always be aware of weather changes. Rain can make the pavement slippery. If you add leaves to the mix, pavement conditions can be extremely dangerous. Poor weather conditions can also make it difficult for other motorists to see you.
Drive in the left side of the lane. Driving here helps you to be more visible to motorists.
Make sure your bike is in proper working condition. This means making sure bolts are tight, brakes work, chains are lubed, and tires are inflated to the manufacture’s recommend tire pressure.
Consider buying some accessories for your bike. Accessories can make your commute to work safer and more enjoyable. A mirror, bell, headlight, and taillight are very important accessories. All of them help you navigate and safely manage your surroundings.
Obey all traffic laws. It happens all too often that bicyclists are seen running stoplights or riding on the wrong side of the road.