Time to think safety

Warmer weather means more motorcycles on the road; Let’s be careful


The warmer temperatures this past week has brought out our friends and neighbors who enjoy riding their motorcycles. It’s a good time to be reminded of safety both for the motorcycle riders and those who are driving other vehicles.

May is motorcycle safety month, and there are sure to be an abundance of articles and safety briefs over the next few weeks that speak directly to motorcycle riders. But what about all the rest of us who don’t ride motorcycles? How can we contribute to motorcycle safety?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 5,000 motorcycle accidents in 2017 in the U.S. Some were single vehicle accidents —  usually due to speed or alcohol —  the rest were multiple vehicle involving cars, trucks or buses. 

In fact, the leading cause of motorcycle accidents is a failure of other motorists to see motorcycles in heavy traffic or in hours of darkness.

As more and more people choose to ride motorcycles, whether recreationally or as a fuel cost saver, sharing the roads continues to be an important part of motorcycle safety. Here are a few tips to ensure that drivers and riders get where they are going safely.

Be aware. If you are a motorist, check your blind spots and use your mirrors. If you are a rider, be aware of the cars around you. Understand they cannot always see you — especially if you are traveling fast. A lot of newer cars come with warning lights on the mirrors and even video imagery to assist with awareness but none of it is a substitute for your own eyes.

Show your intent. You should always use a turn signal to show your intent and warn those around you. This does not mean signaling as you’re changing lanes, but allowing the driver or rider enough time to react to your desire to change lanes or turn. Be aware that motorcycles don’t always have self-canceling turn signals — so be sure to treat a motorcycle turn signal with caution.

Give them space. Although motorcycles are fast and nimble, they are susceptible to conditions that do not always impact drivers such as wind and wet roads. 

Maintain added distance between you and the motorcycle in front of you, so that you can react with enough time. 

If you are a rider, keep in mind that other vehicles cannot react as fast or nimbly as you can. When you are speeding and weaving in and out of traffic it becomes more difficult for vehicles to react to you.

The reality is that safety - for motorists of all kinds - has to be a priority for the public, and a reminder of the rights of motorcyclists is a part of public safety.