We’ve been writing a lot about National Bike Month. The cycle-centric holiday, hosted by the League of American Cyclists, has placed a large emphasis on increasing ridership and teaching safe cycling behavior to children. And here in California, Sacramento has launched a major monthly program to reduce bicycle accidents. But May isn’t only National Bike Month, it’s also Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Boosting motorcycle safety is essential, especially considering that motorcycle deaths make up a disproportionate 13.2% of all traffic deaths nationwide. So in addition to watching out for bicycle safety this month, stay aware of motorcyclists, and as always, share the road for everyone.
While vehicle accidents have dropped, last year to the lowest number since the Truman administration, motorcycle accidents increased 131 percent between 1998 and 2008, according to the National Safety Council. “Throughout spring and summer the number of motorcyclists on the road will increase. It is important for both motorists and motorcyclists to be aware of one another,” said NSC Senior Director of Transportation Initiatives David Teater. “To better defend themselves, motorcyclists should follow the rules of the roadway and wear protective gear, including a Department of Transportation compliant helmet.”
Motorcycle helmet use is a contentious issue in the community, as many riders consider mandatory motorcycle helmet laws an infringement on their personal freedoms. Still, most states, including California, require motorcycle helmet use for all riders. Other states require helmet use for non-adults, and a few, including Illinois and Iowa, have no helmet laws whatsoever.
But regardless of your state’s motorcycle helmet laws, the NSC has some pointers for both motorists and motorcyclists:
- Allow greater following distance behind a motorcycle.
- Be extra cautious in intersections. Most crashes occur when a motorist fails to see a motorcyclist and turns left in front of a motorcycle.
- Give a motorcycle the full lane width — never try to share a lane.
- Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
- Position motorcycle in lane where you will be out of a motorist’s blind spot.
- Use turn signals for every turn or lane change.
So if you drive or ride a motorcycle, be sure to follow these suggestions. And while you’re here, take 2 minutes to fill out our helmet behavior survey.
Photo credit: SpecialKRB