Photo/Story Gallery 2007

May is Motorcycle Safety Month

Speedbike and riderMotorcycle and riderMay is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. All motorists are reminded to safely share the road with motorcycles and be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe.

Motorcycle riders now account for one out of every ten U.S. road fatalities each year – with motorcyclist deaths from traffic crashes rising each of the last eight years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,553 motorcyclists lost their lives in fatal highway crashes in 2005. Of those, 56 percent involved another vehicle in addition to the motorcycle in the crash.

That’s why the Florida Department of Transportation is joining with other federal, state, and local highway safety and law enforcement organizations like the Florida Highway Patrol in proclaiming May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

With warmer weather here, even more motorcycles are on the roads. Drivers of passenger vehicles need to be extra alert. Motorcycles are often difficult to see, so people in other vehicles need to really look out for them—and to take extra care to safely share the road.

Since motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look due to their smaller size, it’s crucial that motorists always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

“Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than other motorists in the event of a crash,” said Colonel Chris Knight, Director, Florida Highway Patrol. “Research shows that approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider, while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill a driver or passenger in their vehicle. In fact, per vehicle miles traveled in 2005, motorcyclists were 37 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than occupants in passenger vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

Driving tips to keep all drivers safe on our roadways:

  • Remember the motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicles on the roadway. Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width–never try to share a lane.

  • Motorcyclists should never ride between lanes of slow moving or stopped traffic.

  • Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

  • Motorcyclists should assume that they are invisible to other motorists and operate their motorcycle accordingly. Position yourself to be seen.

  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.

  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on any vehicle. Be aware that motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.

  • Remember that some road conditions which may be minor annoyances to passenger vehicles can pose major hazards to motorcyclists.

  • Allow for sufficient following distances. When following a motorcycle, make certain the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Never tailgate.

  • Motorcyclists should know and obey traffic laws, be alert to other drivers, never drink and ride, and always wear protective gear.

All too often after a crash, the drivers of other vehicles involved say they never saw the motorcyclist and were unable to respond in time. This is no excuse. Too many lives are being lost. The message to all drivers is: make this the first year in recent years when motorcycle fatalities do not increase. Remember that May is Motorcycle Safety Month. Do your part – share the road with motorcycles.