While motorcycles are only 3% of total vehicles on the road and less than 1% of total road traffic, motorcyclists accounted for 15% of all traffic deaths and 18% of all occupant deaths in statistics available in recent years. One reason for this is obvious — without the protective shell of a car or truck, riders are directly exposed to collisions. Other reasons for increased fatalities among motorcyclists are higher rates of alcohol consumption and speeding. Older riders are more vulnerable to fatal crashes, and the age of motorcycle riders has gone up as more Baby Boomers continue to enjoy the open road. For other drivers on the road, smaller, less visible motorcycles present a challenge, but excessive speed and delayed or poor response due to intoxication add even more risk.
Your challenges as a driver are:
• Awareness: be prepared to respond to unexpected motorcycle traffic
• Avoid distraction: Keep fully focused on the road
• Check your blind spots before turning or changing lanes
• Observe the rules of the road: Do not violate motorcycles’ right-of-way
While it is still rainy, here are some great pointers for safety and visibility that also apply for better weather:
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Keep in mind these essential points as you ride more with better weather:
• Always wear a safety-certified helmet
• Keep your headlight on at all times
• Be “road aware” for changing conditions such as potholes, rain or debris
• Never forget that you are barely visible for most drivers; ride to avoid surprising drivers
• If you are coming back to motorcycling, even after a hiatus of several months, carefully review the rules of the road—consider a review course to brush up
• Baby Boomers, ride cautiously if you are “new again”. Older riders make up 35% of motorcycle crash fatalities.
• Be sure of your skills and doubly cautious before taking passengers on your bike.
Stillman and Friedland hope that you will take time to review basic road safety with motorcycling in mind. Whether you yourself ride a motorcycle, or are just sharing the road, it is a good idea to keep these precautions in mind and share them with other drivers in your family, especially younger and newer drivers.