Greene County Safe Communities Promotes “Sharing the Road” During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Motorcyclist fatalities increased slightly in 2010 to 4,502, accounting for 14% of total fatalities for the year. This increase in motorcycle fatalities for the year resumes the unfortunate overall increasing trend over the last 13 years, an upward trend that saw only a single one-year decline in 2009, when 4,462 motorcyclists were killed. However, the greatest decrease in the estimated number of injured people is among motorcyclists, with an 8.9% decrease.

In response to this increase, Greene County Safe Communities announced today that it is joining with other federal, state and local highway safety, law enforcement, and motorcycle organizations in proclaiming May as “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.” During this time – and during the rest of the year – motorists and other road users are reminded to safely “share the road” with motorcycles, and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. Changing the driving habits of motorists and motorcyclists alike will help decrease the numbers of motorcyclist killed and injured in crashes. Motorcyclists are reminded to make sure that they are visible to motorists, and that they follow the rules of the road. All road users are reminded to never drive, ride, walk or bicycle while distracted.

“As the weather improves, more and more motorcyclists are hitting the roads,” said Laurie Fox, Safe Communities Coordinator. “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.’ A motorcycle is one of the smallest vehicles on our roads, often hidden in a car or truck’s blind spot. Every driver needs to aggressively look for them before changing lanes or merging with traffic.”

Motorists and bicyclists should perform visual checks for motorcyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before they enter or exit a lane of traffic, and at intersections. Pedestrians should also get into the habit of scanning for motorcyclists who might be hidden by other traffic.

Ms. Fox reminds all road users that, “Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too. They should obey traffic rules, be alert to other drivers, never ride while impaired or distracted, and always wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet and other protective gear.”

Ms. Fox said that a motorcyclist is much more vulnerable than a passenger vehicle occupant in the event of a crash. She said that research from DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 39 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes.

Ms. Fox offered tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on our roadways.

• Remember, a motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges
of any other motor vehicle.

• Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane.

• Visually check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots
before changing a lane of traffic.

• Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.

• Don’t be fooled by a motorcycle’s flashing turn signal – motorcycle signals
are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off.
Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.

• Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when behind a
motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to
maneuver or stop in an emergency.

• Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than
cars.

• Never drive while distracted.

Ms. Fox also said motorcyclists can increase their safety by:

• Avoiding riding in poor weather conditions;

• Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet;

• Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks
no one will see it;

• Combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to them-
selves;

• Using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity;

• Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other
drivers; and

• Never driving while impaired.

Our message to all drivers and motorcyclists is: Help to share in the responsibility of keeping all road users safe, and do your part by safely “sharing the road.”

For more information on motorcycle safety, please visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles. For information on Greene County Safe Communities, please call 937-374-5669 or email lfox@gcchd.org.

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