10:08 AM

Look twice, save a life


May is motorcycle awareness month, and motorists are reminded to safely share the road with motorcycles and be extra alert to help keep them safe.

As more motorcyclists are out on the roads with the weather warming up, all motorists are reminded to safely share the road with motorcycles and be extra alert to help keep them safe. Motorcyclists meanwhile are reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists and ride smart.

May is designated Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to help prevent motorcycle crashes, injuries and deaths.

In 2014, 4,586 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a decrease of 2.3 percent from 2013 (4,692). Those deaths account for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year, despite motorcycle registrations representing only 3 percent of all vehicles in the United States in 2014. Injured motorcyclists also decreased from 93,000 in 2013 to 88,000 in 2014.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 1,630 lives were saved in 2014 because of proper helmet usage, but another 715 lives could have been saved if helmets had been worn.

It’s especially important for motorists to understand motorcycle safety challenges such as size and visibility, and riding practices like downshifting and weaving to be able to anticipate and respond to motorcyclist behavior.

The NHTSA offers general tips to drivers on how to help prevent a crash with a motorcycle:

  • Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.

  • Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.

  • If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.

  • Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.

  • Always allow more follow distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

  • Never drive distracted or impaired.

Motorcyclists must also take precautions to remain safe on the road, here are some reminders:

  • Wear a high quality helmet and other protective gear.

  • Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.

  • Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.

  • Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.

  • Ride in the portion of the lane where you will be more visible to other drivers and where you have most visibility of what lies ahead

  • Never ride distracted or impaired.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and For more information on motorcycle safety, visit