Be aware: May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcycle riders are 30 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than in a car accident. Although motorcycles make up only 2 percent of vehicles on the road, they account for 14 percent of all road traffic deaths.

In 2012, more than 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in crashes, a 9 percent increase from the previous year. The Governors Highway Safety Association says warmer weather, a better economy and high gas prices may have played roles in the increase.

These statistics are a good indication of why there is an entire month dedicated to motorcycle safety and awareness.

The NHTSA has released a list of tips for other drivers, to help non-riders be more aware of motorcyclists and safer when driving near them.

1)      Road users are reminded to never drive, bike, or walk while distracted.  Doing so can result in tragic consequences for motorcyclists.

2)      A motorcycle has the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle on the roadway.

3)      Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.

4)      Because motorcycles are small, they can be difficult for other road users to see them, or judge their speed and distance as they approach.

5)      Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.

6)      Because of its smaller size, a motorcyclist can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Always   check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

7)      Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Motorcycle signals may not be self-canceling and motorcyclists sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the rider is going to turn before you proceed.

8)      Road conditions that are minor annoyances to motorists can pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders may change speed or adjust position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.

9)      Allow more following distance — three or four seconds – when behind a motorcycle so the motorcycle rider has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Motorcyclists can do their part to stay safe. Consumer Reports has issued nine tips for all motorcyclists. Even experienced riders can use a reminder about these ways to stay safe.

1)      Don’t buy more bike than you can handle. Choose a model that’s easy for you to get on and off the center stand; if it feels too heavy, it probably is.

2)      Invest in anti-lock brakes. They are a proven lifesaver and are available on many models. IIHS data shows that motorcycles with ABS brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

3)      Take a course to become a better motorcycle rider. These can help teach you the basics, as well as advanced techniques.

4)      Wear a helmet. Riders without a helmet are 40 percent more likely to have a fatal head injury in a crash and three times more likely to suffer brain injuries than those wearing helmets.

5)      Wear proper gear. Wear a leather or reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants and over-the-ankle footwear.

6)      Ride defensively. Be extra alert. Watch for cars changing lanes or pulling out from side streets. A recent study found that in accidents involving a motorcycle and a car, car drivers were at fault 60 percent of the time.

7)      Avoid bad weather. Rain limits your visibility and lessens your tires’ grip on the road.

8)      Watch for road hazards. Your bike can slide unexpectedly because of sand, wet leaves or even pebbles on the road.

9)      Check your motorcycle before each ride. Make sure your lights, horn and directional signals are working. Check the chain, belt or shaft and the brakes. Inspect your tires for wear and to make sure they are filled to the correct pressure.

At MotorEagles, our focus is to help riders and non-riders share the road safely. We believe that with raised awareness, the number of motorcycle fatalities can reverse its upward trend and riders can feel safer on their bikes. To find out more, visit our website.

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