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May is Motorcycle Awareness Month


May 9, 2013 by Rider Newsletter Staff



Aware is as aware does

Perhaps you’ve heard about Motorcycle Awareness Month. The idea is to remind drivers of cars, trucks, RVs and other road monsters to keep an eye out for those of us travelling on two wheels. Nice idea and well worth the effort. Statistics show that nearly half of motorcycle accidents result from drivers not realizing a motorcycle is there. You may have experienced this yourself when driving a car or truck. If you are not careful, it is possible to overlook a smaller vehicle approaching an intersection, or lurking in your mirrors. The results can be deadly.

Motorists’ Responsibility

While it is critical for drivers to be alert to motorcycles on the road, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has many other suggestions for motorists to make motorcycle riding safer. These include:

Be aware that motorcycles have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities on the road as all other vehicles.

Allow motorcycles the full lane, as you would another car. Do not try to get around a motorcycle in the same lane.

Because motorcycles are smaller than cars, it can be difficult to estimate their speed and distance as they approach. When in doubt, don’t pull out.

Motorcycles can more easily be hidden in a driver’s blind spot, so check carefully.

Don’t assume that because a motorcycle has its turn signal on, it will actually turn. Motorcycle signals often do not turn off automatically. Wait a few seconds more to be sure.

Allow extra distance when following motorcycles. They can often stop faster than a car.

Motorcycle Riders’ Responsibilities

While it is critical we do everything we can to remind motorists to take a second (or third) look, we can use Motorcycle Awareness Month to remember important safety precautions we need to take to protect ourselves. We’ve covered many of them here in the past and we will do so again, but it can’t hurt to remind ourselves, particularly when the weather is getting warmer. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:

Be sure that your tires are in good shape and carefully check the air pressure. Tires are the most important safety-related equipment on your bike and should be treated as such.

Wear quality protective clothing, including gloves and shoes.

Buy and use an approved helmet. This is somewhat controversial among some riders, but the statistics are clear. Wearing a helmet can save your brain and your life. If your helmet is more than a couple of years old, replace it.

Learn and use defensive riding techniques. In any crash, whether single or multiple vehicle, your motorcycle offers little protection. When it comes to your health, it doesn’t matter who’s at fault, you are still the loser. Ride as if every other vehicle on the road is being controlled by an idiot.

Never drink and ride. This really should go without saying, but we all know motorcycles and partying go together and a few drinks can rob us of the judgment required to stay off the bike. This is when it is critical that we help each other as riders. Don’t ride drunk also means don’t let someone else ride drunk either.

We really haven’t covered a lot of new ground here, but we have tried to provide reminders of the safety precautions everyone on the road can make to better enjoy the riding season.

Here are a few links that provide additional information:

Consumer Reports recently published a list of safety tips for new riders. It certainly wouldn’t hurt some of us veterans to read this over.

Basic motorcycle safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The page is not easy to read, but the information is useful.

The NHTSA press release announcing Motorcycle Awareness Month.



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