Sponsored by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, May is designated as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Their main goal is to get drivers to understand that motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges 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 gear is their main line of defense. 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 actually is. 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.
- 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.
- Motorcyclists sometimes slow down by downshifting or 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. 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.
Wait! Not to overlook our friends who prefer riding bicycles, May is also National Bike Month! Sponsored by the League, National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride. Whether you bike to work or school; to save money or time; to preserve your health or the environment; to explore your community or get to your destination, get involved in Bike Month in your city or state — and help get more people in your community out riding too!
Remember: Number 10 above is good advice to motorists: think of the rider of the bike being someone’s son, daughter, spouse, parent, or even grandparent! These riders do not have the protection afforded by a car: they have their helmet and safety gear and are at greater risk from distracted drivers. Drive and ride friendly! Don’t forget to wear all your safety products, and add a hi-visibility vest over your jacket to help other drivers see you more easily. There are also some neat stick-on applications that you can add to your helmet!