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May traditionally signals the start of motorcycle season. It’s also Motorcycle Awareness Month.
During the winter, motorists become unaccustomed to seeing motorcyclists in traffic. With the warmer weather finally here, motorcyclists again become a part of the traffic mix.
Research shows that 75% of motorcycle fatalities involve another vehicle, and of those, two out of every three were the fault of the other driver. Often the other driver does not see the oncoming motorcyclist at all or does not see the motorcyclist in time to avoid a crash.
Motorcycles are very different from automobiles. Because they are smaller in size than motor vehicles, motorcycles maneuver more quickly and move in and out of traffic quickly at times. Because of their size and maneuverability, car drivers often don’t notice motorcycles in traffic. Because of its smaller profile you may find it more difficult to estimate the motorcycle’s speed.
With more motorcycles on the road each year it becomes more important than ever for motorists and motorcyclists to safely “Share the Road.” As a motorist there are some steps to become more aware of motorcyclists
Respect the motorcyclist. Remember the motorcycle is a vehicle with all the privileges of any vehicle on the roadway. Give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel. Give motorcycles the same room when passing as you would a car.
Look Out: Look for the motorcyclist on the highway, at intersections, when you’re making a left turn and when changing lanes. Intersections are the most likely place for a motorcycle crash to occur. Most often the motorcycle is going straight when the oncoming vehicle makes a left turn in front of the motorcycle. Watch for motorcycles before turning. Because motorcycles are smaller, drivers tend to underestimate the speed of the motorcycle. Clearly signal your intentions.
Anticipate a motorcyclist’s maneuver: Obstructions (potholes, debris) that you ignore or not notice can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Predict evasive actions.
Allow plenty of space. Don’t follow a motorcycle too closely. Allow enough room for the motorcycle to take evasive action. In most cases a motorcycle can stop in a shorter distance than a car. Will you be able to stop quickly if the motorcycle suddenly must stop?
Most motorcyclists and automobile drivers are interested in courteous and safe operation of the vehicles they use. For every person to safely enjoy the streets and highways, we must all “Share the Road.”