Motorcycle Awareness


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Naval Safety Center want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that with warmer weather approaching more motorcycles will be on the roads.

All drivers are asked to please share the road and look twice for motorcycles. Because of their smaller size compared to other vehicles they are often difficult to distinguish in traffic and appear to be farther away than they actually are. This misperception has led to more than a few cars moving over on or merging into motorcyclists’ lanes of traffic resulting in mishaps. Motorists often say following an accident with a motorcycle “I didn’t see him/her there.” Don’t be that motorist.

The latest NHTSA vehicle mile travel data shows motorcyclists are about 27 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash, and six times as likely to be injured.

As of May 1 of fiscal year 2018, the Navy has experienced seven motorcycle fatalities. This is up from from five incurred during the same time frame in fiscal year 2017.

The U.S. Marine Corps has experienced eight motorcycle fatalities this fiscal year, which is up from seven during this same period in fiscal year 2017.

Most mishaps occur with riders under the age of 27. The 25 and under age group is usually riding sport bikes and wearing required protective gear, but many of them are riding with little to no experience and pushing their machines’ capabilities, which can override the effectiveness of even the best protective gear on the market when tested in crashes at high speed.
Command leadership should ensure military riders take the mandated motorcycle safety training, and ensure that there is an established motorcycle mentorship program in place.

Commander, Navy Installations has a contractor on staff to assist in this training effort, and each major installation has rider coaches available to provide training. There is no need to postpone training with the number of rider coaches now available. Contact your motorcycle safety representatives (MSRs) or local installation safety office to obtain information on available courses.

Command MSRs are a great resource, and the more involved they are in rider mentoring and the riding process, the more effective the motorcycle safety program will be.

Peer-to-peer rider support is one of the best ways to ensure all riders know and comply with Department of Navy and common sense motorcycle safety requirements.

The Naval Safety Center provides resources for MSRs. Weekly rider down reports are widely distributed to help increase awareness of motorcycle mishaps. Additional information is available to command MSRs by visiting the links below, where posters, infographics, talking points, tips and other motorcycle safety information can be found.

Remember that there is no such thing as a fender-bender for a motorcycle rider who is completely exposed. By working together and sharing the vast amount of information available, we can collectively reduce needless mishaps and safely share the road.

Hand Signals and Safe Motorcycling
Everyone should be aware of the biker wave, but what most people don’t know is that there is a full system of hand signals designed to non-verbally communicate many of the things riders need to convey to other drivers and riders. Some of the most common hand signals used by motorcyclists out on the roadways can be found on the next page.


Safe motorcycling takes balance, coordination, and good judgment. Here are some ways to ensure you’ll be around to enjoy riding your motorcycle for many years to come.

MAKE SURE YOU ARE PROPERLY LICENSED – Completing a motorcycle rider education course is a good way to ensure you have the correct instruction and basic experience it takes to ride a motorcycle. Do not stop there, continue to progress on with advanced level courses where offered.

PRACTICE OPERATING YOUR MOTORCYCLE – Make sure you know how to handle your motorcycle in a variety of conditions (e.g., inclement weather or encountering hazards such as slick roads, potholes, and road debris). If you plan to carry cargo or a passenger, be prepared to make adjustments to the tires, suspension, and placement of the load.

ENSURE YOUR MOTORCYCLE IS SAFE – Before every ride, you should check the tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, headlights and signal indicators, as well as fluid levels.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

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