May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, and the Motorcycle Safety Institute (MSI) and Think Bike wants to remind vehicle drivers and motorcyclists alike to Share the Road. In 2018, there were more than 200 motorcyclists killed in road crashes, and more than 500 injured. This increase in motorcycle crashes continues a tragic trend over the last three years, since 2016.
This May, MSI wants to ensure that all vehicle drivers Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles. This new campaign helps motorists understand standard motorcycle driving behaviours and learn how to drive safely around motorcycles on our roads. Safe riding practices and cooperation from all road users will help reduce the number of crashes. It’s especially important for motorists to understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists, such as size and visibility, and motorcycle riding practices like downshifting and weaving to know how to anticipate and respond to them. By raising motorists’ awareness, both drivers and riders will be safer sharing the road.
KNOW THE FACTS
- Research and data consistently identify motorists as being at-fault in more than half of all multi-vehicle motorcycle-involved collisions. In fact, motorcyclists are at a 30% higher risk than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash, and 5 times more likely to be injured.
- Research has shown that people behind the wheels of passenger vehicles are distracted more than 50% of the time.
- Improper use of a vehicle’s rear-view and side-view mirrors contributes to collisions, particularly with smaller vehicles like motorcycles. With roughly 40% of a vehicle’s outer perimeter zones hidden by blind spots, improper adjustment, or lack of use of one’s side-view mirrors can have deadly consequences for motorcyclists.
- If you are turning at an intersection and your view of oncoming traffic is partially obstructed, wait until you can see around the obstruction, sufficiently scan for all roadway users (pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists alike), and proceed with caution. Slow your decision-making process down at intersections.
- One’s reaction time and ability to assess and respond to a potential collision, such as a lane change, is significantly hindered if there are large differences in speed among vehicles in traffic. When approaching a congested roadway, being diligent in modifying your speed to match that of the cars in traffic can be a lifesaver, particularly for motorcyclists.
- Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Though it may seem as if there is enough room in a single lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, looks can be deceiving. Share the road, but not the lane: a motorcyclist needs room to manoeuvre safely.
- Because motorcycles are smaller than most vehicles, they can be difficult to see. Their size can also cause other drivers to misjudge their speed and distance.
- Size also counts against motorcycles when it comes to blind spots. Motorcyclists can be easily hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Always look for motorcycles by checking your mirrors and blind spots before switching to another lane of traffic.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate your movement and find a safe lane position.
- Do not be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle—it may not be self-cancelling, and the motorcyclist may have forgotten to turn it off. Wait to be sure the rider is going to turn before you proceed.
- Allow more follow distance—three or four seconds—when following a motorcycle; this gives the motorcycle rider more time to manoeuvre or stop in an emergency. Motorcycle riders may suddenly need to change speed or adjust their lane position to avoid hazards such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, tar snakes, railroad crossings, and grooved road surface.
TIPS FOR MOTORCYCLISTS
- Wear an ECE-compliant (DOT is dated) helmet and use proper reflective gear to be more visible.
- Never ride while impaired or distracted—it is not worth the risk of killing or injuring yourself or someone else.
- Have your motorcycle serviced on a regular basis. You owe it to ‘her’ and yourself.
- Get your motorcycle license. It’s the right thing to do.
- Get trained by an approved riding school or academy. It’s a life-saving investment.
- Let your situation determine your speed, not your ego.
- Learn to control your visible reserve. Give yourself time to respond.