Sponsored by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, May is designated as National Motorcycle Safety Month. Their main goal is to get drivers to understand that motorcyclists have the same rights and priviledges as any other vehicle on the road, and we all must “share the road.” We should pay attention every time we approach a motorcycle and extend courtesy to them as they travel. They don’t have all the protection that we in cars or trucks have; their driving abilities and gear are their main lines of defense. I have posted a very similar list previously, but please pay attention to these ten things that all car and truck drivers should know about motorcycles and motorcyclists (from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation):
- There are many more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road and some drivers don’t “recognize” motorcyclists. They ignore them, usually unintentionally. Look for motorcycles, especially when checking traffic at an intersection.
- A motorcyclist may look farther away than he or she is in actuality. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, estimate that a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
- A motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots or masked by objects or backgrounds outside the car. Thoroughly check traffic, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.
- A motorcycle may seem to be moving faster than it really is. Again, don’t immediately rely on your perceptions.
- Motorcyclists sometimes slow down by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Don’t tailgate motorcyclists. At intersections, anticipate that motorcyclists may slow down without any visual warning.
- Turn signals on a motorcycle are not often automatically self-canceling. Some riders, (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off. Try to determine whether a motorcycle’s turn signal is for real. And if you’re driving a car, remember to use your turn signals too. They’re a great communication tool for riders and drivers when used properly.
- Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily, to avoid road debris, and deal with passing vehicles and wind. Understand that motorcyclists often adjust lane position for a purpose, and it’s not an invitation for a car to share the lane with them.
- Maneuverability can be one advantage for a motorcycle, but don’t expect that motorcyclist can always steer or swerve out of harm’s way. Please leave motorcyclists room on the road, wherever they are around you.
- Stopping distance for motorcycles can be nearly the same or better than that of cars. But wet or slippery pavement can put motorcyclists at a disadvantage. Don’t violate a motorcyclist’s right of way, especially in bad conditions.
- Don’t think of it as a motorcycle, a machine: Think of the rider; the person on board is someone’s son, daughter, spouse or parent. Unlike other motorists, protected by doors, roofs and airbags, motorcyclists have only their safety gear and are at greater risk from distracted drivers.
Friday, May 6th, is the Fifth Annual International Female Ride Day. Women riders are encouraged to ride that day, with the purpose of bringing awareness to women motorcyclists. It says, “Just Ride” as its’ theme. This is a global, synchronized day that reaches out to women from all parts of the world. This idea was presented to women five years ago, and women of all ages, styles of riding, and motorcycle brands have made this a phenominal day, according to Vicki Gray, of MOTORESS, and founder of International Female Ride Day.
I admire those who enjoy riding motorcycles, and have several friends who do so. They have even given me a ride, (in my younger days) , and it was fun to enjoy that smooth glide down the highway. However, when you look down at the pavement, you don’t want to wind up there. Let’s all do our part to “share the road” with our fellow travelers, regardless of how many wheels they have.
Tomorrow, we will talk about the protective gear that motorcycle riders wear, or should wear. It always makes me uneasy to see a rider without a helmet. Until then, ride friendly and safely!
Sources: NHTSA, Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Powersports Business