Drivers Take Notice: It’s Spring & Motorcyclists Are Hitting the Road


What do Motorcycles and May have in common? May is motorcycle safety awareness month, a time of year designed to remind all drivers and motorcyclists to share the road with each other. Motorcycle safety is an issue of increasing concern.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and the Naval Safety Center are encouraging all motorists to share the road and watch for motorcyclists.

According to NHTSA data in 2016 there were 5,286 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, 12 of whom were Navy shipmates. While the national numbers have not been released yet for 2017, the Navy numbers for fiscal year 2017 show we lost 21 sailors due to motorcycle crashes.

As the weather improves, more motorcyclists are out for a ride and sharing the road with other motorists. You may be aware of the risks of riding your bike, but are the drivers around you aware? Assume the answer is no. The sudden population of motorcycles on our roads often catches drivers by surprise this time of year. Do your part by being aware that other drivers may not see you. Stay out of blind spots and expect the unexpected.

Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on our roads, often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or just blending in with traffic and not seen. Drivers can successfully interact and share the road with motorcyclists by taking the extra time and looking twice to spot motorcyclists in traffic, especially at intersections.

Additional tips:

  1. Passenger car drivers must allow a greater following distance behind a motorcycle. Motorcyclists will often slow down by downshifting, or merely getting off the throttle. In either of these situations the brake light does not illuminate. Therefore, it is suggested to allow a following distance of 3-4 seconds when following a motorcycle.
  2. Drivers should also show extra caution at intersections. Many crashes occur when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist approaching an intersection and turns left in front of the motorcycle.
  3.  Drivers should never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Always give a motorcycle the full lane’s width. Motorcyclists should practice operational risk management and never split or share a lane with a motor vehicle.
  4. Motorcyclists should avoid riding in poor weather, but sometimes it occurs unexpectedly. So car and truck drivers should take extra care and be more observant during rain, wind, or other inclement weather conditions.
  5. Use your vehicle’s rear-view and side-view mirrors properly to help eliminate blind spots where small vehicles like motorcycles can be missed. Motorcyclists should position their motorcycles to avoid being in a driver’s blind spot.
  6. All motorists should use turn signals for every turn or lane change, every time.
  7. Motorcyclists can help themselves be more visible by wearing brightly colored clothing with reflective material, which will better their chances of being seen by other drivers.

The motorcycle awareness month campaign was launched by the AMA in the early 1980s and has since been adopted by many state motorcycle-rights organizations, NHTSA, MSF and government entities.

Reducing crashes is a shared responsibility for drivers and motorcyclists alike. Safe riding and cooperation from everyone on the road can help reduce these numbers. Stay alert, use common sense and be courteous while on the road. The Naval Safety Center wants drivers to get in the habit of looking for motorcyclists as they drive, not only during this campaign month but throughout the year.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Motorcycle Safety Foundation



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