Share the Road – May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and at William Mattar law offices, we want to remind motorists to stay focused and share the road with motorcyclists. As the warmer weather approaches, motorcyclists are beginning to get back on the road. Motorcyclists face numerous safety challenges, and it is especially important for all drivers to understand that safe practices and cooperation from all drivers will help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on our roadways.
Riding a motorcycle and driving a car require different skills. Motorcyclists face different road and safety challenges, such as vehicle size, visibility, and riding practices, including weaving and downshifting in order to accommodate for varying road and traffic conditions. It is important to give bikers space and to be alert when sharing the road with motorcyclists.
Per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely than people in passenger cars to die in a traffic crash. Motorcyclists continue to be over-represented in traffic-related fatalities, accounting for 14% of all traffic-related fatalities, while representing only 3% of the entire registered motor vehicle fleet, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Attorney William Mattar has created a motorcycle safety awareness campaign in order to remind drivers in cars, vans, and trucks to stay alert and focused while sharing the road with motorcyclists. By raising awareness, drivers and riders will be safer sharing the road. Check out our tips for motorists and motorcyclists:
Drivers, Watch for Motorcycles:
Cars, vans, and trucks make up the majority of motor vehicles on the roads. Motorcyclists must follow the same traffic laws as other motorists, but motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable motorists on the road. This is primarily due to the small size of the vehicle they ride. Motorcycles vary in shape and size and include, mopeds, scooters, cruisers, off-road, sport bikes, dirt bikes, choppers, standards, tourers and other models.
Drivers – it’s important to not just watch for motorcycles, but to give them extra space and time to complete their maneuvers. Motorcycles can be difficult to see sometimes, but it’s important to remember:
- Allow extra space between your vehicle and a motorcycle. When sharing the road with motorcycles, it is extremely important to allow extra space between your car or truck and a motorcycle.
- Be aware of your blind spots. Motorcycles are significantly smaller than cars and this presents an added safety challenge. Make sure to perform a visual cross-check in both of your side view and rear view mirrors when turning or merging into traffic. Don’t forget to check your blind spots.
- Don’t tailgate and slow down. As mentioned above it’s extremely important to allow for extra space between your car or truck and a motorcycle. Slow down when you’re behind a motorcycle, because motorcycles are more sensitive to changes on the road and cannot handle road debris, such as a shredded tire, the same as a car or SUV. Give yourself room so that you have the time and space to react to a motorcyclist making a quick unexpected stop or turn.
- IF you see one motorcycle on the road, watch for others. Bikers tend to ride in groups, and it is important to keep this in mind because you may not see the entire group at once.
- Use your turn signals. You should always use your turn signals so that you can help other drivers and motorcyclists anticipate your next move.
- Be extra careful taking left turns. Be aware of motorcycles on the road and their speed if you are turning. Due to a motorcycle’s size they may appear to travel at a lower speed, but that is not always the case. When in doubt, it may be best to wait until the motorcycle passes before making that left turn.
- Dim your headlights when on the road at night. Using your high beams or brights at night can be blinding, and these lights are especially blinding for motorcyclists. It is important to dim your lights when you pass a motorcycle at night.
- Don’t drive distracted. This includes, checking your mobile phone, playing with the radio, eating and even talking to other passengers in the car. Your full attention should be on the road at all times.
When an accident occurs involving a motorcycle and another vehicle, the biker and their passenger have a higher risk of serious injury or being killed compared to the driver and passengers in the other motor vehicle. Even though motorcycle riders and their passengers are required to wear proper saftey protection, such as a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet, motorcycles don’t protect the rider and their passengers with a frame or airbags.
Motorcyclists – Skill & Gear Can Protect You
In 2018, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in motorcycle crashes. Safe riding practices and cooperation from all motor vehicle drivers is important in order to help decrease the number of fatalities and injuries that result from motorcycle accidents.
Safe motorcycling takes balance, coordination, and good judgement. Here are some things motorcyclists should do to prepare for the open road:
Perform a Motorcycle Pre-Ride Inspection
You should inspect your motorcycle prior to every ride you take. Things to check include:
- Tire pressure and tread depth
- Hand and foot brakes
- Headlights and signal indicators
- Fluid levels
- Oil or gas leaks
If carrying cargo, inspect the load to ensure that it is secure and balanced. Adjust suspension and tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight.
If carrying a passenger:
- Have them mount the motorcycle AFTER the engine has started
- Sit as far forward as possible with your passenger directly behind you
- Passenger should keep both feet on the foot rests at all times
- Remind the passenger to keep their legs and/or feet away from the muffler
- Ask the passenger to hold onto the driver’s waist, hips, or supports
- Keep movement to a minimum
- Lean-in at the same time and same direction as the driver
- The passenger should only dismount when the motorcycle comes to a complete stop.
Wear the Proper Safety Protection
Not only is it important and may be lifesaving to wear the proper safety protection when riding; it is also required by law in New York State. Wearing the right protection may help save your life if you are ever involved in a motorcycle accident, as it is also the only thing between you and the road.
Helmets – For all riders, wearing a motorcycle helmet is required in New York State regardless of age or experience level. Motorcycle helmets sold in the U.S. are required to meet the federal standard and have the DOT certification label on the outside back of the helmet. No matter the speed, helmeted riders are three times more likely to survive head injuries than those not wearing approved helmets at the time of the motorcycle accident. Violation of New York State’s helmet law may result in a fine or jail time.
Eyewear – Eye protection is not legally required but is encouraged to be worn by all riders in New York State. All eyewear, must at a minimum, obey the standards established by the American National Standard Institute, ANSI – Z87.1. Eye protection must consist of either a helmet face-shield, spectacles, or goggles.
Protective Clothing – When riding, motorcyclists’ arms and legs should be completely covered with thick and/or bright colored clothing, such as denim or leather. Select boots or shoes that cover your ankles. Wearing gloves protects your hands in a motorcycle accident and allows for a better grip.
Mind the Rules of the Road
Before you ride, make sure you are familiar with all the local traffic laws. Remember to comply with speed limits, traffic lights, signs, and lane markings. Only two motorcycles may ride side-by-side in a single lane in New York State. Always make yourself visible to other motorists by staying out of their blind spots. Keep your headlight on at all times, wear bright colored clothing, and add reflective strips to your motorcycle.
Seasonal Riders: Before you get back on the road, take some time to familiarize yourself with your motorcycle. Take your first ride in a neighborhood, an empty parking lot, or down a quiet country road. Avoid highways and busy city streets. Remember to prepare yourself for varying road conditions, such as potholes, road debris, and wet pavement. By taking part in this exercise, you will have the opportunity to discover and properly address any issues.
Remaining drug and alcohol free while riding may prevent a serious or fatal motorcycle accident. Drugs and alcohol impair one’s judgement, alertness, and reaction time, making it difficult for motorcyclists to balance, shift gears, and control the throttle.