May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP) wants to remind all motorists to “Share the Road” especially during this month
In 2018, there were 143 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in Georgia, a six-percent increase from 137 in 2017. Those deaths account for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year. This increase in motorcycle fatalities continues a tragic trend over the last three years, where fatalities have increased since 2014.
Motorcyclists are significantly overrepresented in traffic crashes and fatalities. In fact, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash, and five times more likely to be injured. It is essential that vehicle drivers pay complete attention on the roads as even the smallest momentary lapse in a vehicle driver’s awareness can result in the death of an unseen motorcyclist.
“We want to spread the word to vehicle drivers to keep an eye out for motorcyclists and to always remember to Share the Road,” said DDS Commissioner Spencer R. Moore. “It is very easy to overlook a motorcycle due to their smaller size. For this reason, it is vital that we put forth extra effort in keeping watch.”
Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles, an awareness building campaign developed by The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), brings drivers up to speed on common motorcyclist riding behaviors and highlights simple things drivers can do to increase the safety of their two-wheeled friends. The goal of this material is to create safer roads and save lives. GSMP social media sites will be featuring this messaging during the month of May and is available on the DDS Facebook site.
“The best way to celebrate Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is to always wear a helmet and to support all-rider helmet laws to ensure fellow riders do the same,” said Commissioner Moore. “Wearing a helmet is imperative to the safety of our riders. Just like motorists buckling their seat belts, using a helmet can drastically increase survival rates in the event of a vehicle crash. NHTSA data estimates that helmets saved 1,859 motorcyclists’ lives in 2016, and that 809 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn their helmets.”
Tips for Motorists
Because vehicle drivers control a much larger machine, it is imperative that they keep close watch for motorcyclists who may be riding nearby. Drivers may follow these tips to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle:
- Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has the same rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
- Always use a turn signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling, and the motorcyclist could have forgotten to turn it off. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
- Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
- Always allow more following distance—three to four seconds—when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Never drive distracted or impaired.
Tips for Motorcyclists
At the same time, motorcyclists must take extra precautions to guard against drivers who may not see them. Motorcyclists may follow these tips to prevent a fatal crash with a vehicle:
- Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
- Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
- Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
- Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
- Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
- Never ride distracted or impaired.