May Is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Motorists are reminded to share the road with motorcycles as we recognize Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. In 2011, motorcycle fatalities accounted for 14 percent of total highway deaths, despite motorcycle registrations representing only about 3 percent of all vehicles on America’s roadways.

On a per vehicle mile basis, motorcyclists are more than 30 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of cars, and five times more likely to be injured. "Increasing safe riding and cooperation among all road users is essential to reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our nation's highways," said the U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Motorists and motorcyclists have a common responsibility to safely share the road together."

To prevent motorcyclist's deaths and injuries, NHTSA offers the following safety recommendations:

For motorcyclists:

  • Never ride impaired or distracted.
  • Obey traffic laws, wear DOT-compliant helmets and other protective gear.
  • Make yourself visible by wearing bright colors and using reflective tape.
  • Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
  • Use turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if you think no one will see it.
  • Combine hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to yourself.
  • Position yourself in the lane where you will be most visible to other drivers.

For drivers:

  • Never drive distracted. Doing so can result in tragic consequences for motorcyclists.
  • Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position. Because of its smaller size, a motorcyclist can be hidden in a vehicle's blind spot.
  • Always check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
  • Turn signals on motorcycles are not the same as those on motor vehicles – motorcycle signals are usually not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Allow enough time to determine the motorcyclist's intention before you proceed.
  • Remember that road conditions that are minor annoyances to motorists can pose major hazards to motorcyclists.
  • Motorcycle riders may change speed or adjust position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
  • Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when following a motorcycle so the motorcycle rider has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
  • In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.