May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and AAA Southern New England advises motorists and motorcyclists alike to be more aware of the need to share the road safely.
During May – and of course, for the rest of the year - motorists and other road users are reminded to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe.
Based on the latest 2010 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclist fatalities increased slightly to 4,502, a figure that accounts for 14 percent of total fatalities for the year.
This rise – though slight -- resumes a 13-year trend that saw only a single one-year decline in 2009, when 4,462 motorcyclists were killed.
Prompted by rising gas prices and greater numbers of women and older riders, motorcycle purchases and registrations have exploded over the last decade.
Although 2011 figures aren’t compiled yet, NHTSA reports the Nutmeg State sustained 52 bike fatalities in 2010, compared to the 49 in 2009.
“As the weather improves, more and more motorcyclists are hitting the roads,” says Fran Mayko “And with that in mind, pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers of all vehicles, including SUVs, passenger cars and trucks, need to be extra attentive and make sure they ‘share the road.’
Meanwhile, AAA offers these tips to keep drivers and bikers safe on the roadways.
As a motorist, it’s your responsibility to:
- Give motorcycles the time and space to safely maneuver in traffic as they prepare to make turns, cross intersections and change lanes. A motorcycle’s smaller profile makes it hard to see, especially at higher speeds, in dim light or at night.
- Respect motorcyclists, who have full rights and privileges as any other motor vehicle on a roadway. Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width; never try to share a lane.
- Allow more following distance – at least 3 to 4 seconds -- so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop. Tailgating can unsettle a rider, making him or her lose control.
- Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
As a motorcyclist, it’s your responsibility to:
- Wear proper gear: a high-quality helmet, appropriate eye protection, footwear, and gloves; and bright, reflective riding apparel.
- Make sure your bike is illuminated: clearly visible head- and taillights, operating turn and stop lamps. These are crucial to seeing and being seen on roadways.