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, bikers are beginning to get back on the road. Motorcyclists face numerous safety risks, and it is especially important for all drivers to know that safe practices and cooperation from all drivers can help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on our roadways.
Riding a motorcycle and driving a car require different skills. Motorcyclists encounter other road and safety challenges, such as vehicle size and visibility. Bikers must also learn various riding skills, including weaving, and downshifting to accommodate varying road and traffic conditions.
Per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely than people in passenger cars to die in a traffic crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists continue to be overrepresented in traffic-related fatalities, accounting for 14 percent of all traffic-related fatalities while representing only 3 percent of the entire registered motor vehicle fleet. .
Attorney William Mattar has created this motorcycle safety awareness campaign to remind drivers in cars, vans, and trucks to stay focused while riding alongside motorcyclists. By raising awareness, we hope that both drivers and bikers will be safer on our roadways. Check out our tips below for motorists and motorcyclists:
Be Nice Look Twice and Watch for Motorcycles:
Cars, vans, and trucks make up the majority of motor vehicles. Motorcyclists must follow the same traffic laws as other motorists but are some of the most vulnerable people on the roads. 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 crucial to watch for motorcycles and give them extra space and time to complete their maneuvers. Motorcycles can be difficult to see sometimes, so it’s essential to keep these tips in mind:
- Allow extra space between your vehicle and a motorcycle. When sharing the road with motorcycles, it is essential to allow extra space between your car or truck and a motorcycle if you, or the motorcyclist, must make a sudden stop or maneuver.
- 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 rearview mirrors when turning or merging into traffic.
- Don’t tailgate and remember to slow down when you’re behind a motorcycle. Bikers can be 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 to 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 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 nearby motorcycles and their speed if you are turning. Due to a motorcycle’s size, they may appear to travel at a slower 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 hazardous for motorcyclists.
- 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 motor vehicle, the biker and their passenger have a higher risk of serious injury or death than the occupants of the other vehicle. Even though motorcycle riders and their passengers are required to wear proper safety gear, such as a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet, motorcycles don’t offer the protection of an automobile frame or airbags.
Motorcyclists – Skill & Gear Can Protect You
In 2018, 4,985 people were killed in motorcycle crashes in the U.S. Some motorcyclists are injured in accidents through no fault of their own, but there are a few safe riding practices and habits that can help protect you on the roadways.
Safe motorcycling takes balance, coordination, good judgment, and the proper gear. Here are some tips on how motorcyclists can prepare for the open road:
Perform a Motorcycle Pre-Ride Inspection
You should inspect your motorcycle before every ride you take. Things to check include:
- Tire pressure and tread depth;
- Hand and foot brakes;
- Headlights and signal indicators;
- Fluid levels; and
- 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.
- 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 footrests 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; and
- The passenger should only dismount when the motorcycle comes to a complete stop.
Wear the Proper Safety Protection
Not only may it be lifesaving to wear the proper safety protection when riding, but it is also required by New York law. Wearing the proper protection may help save your life in a motorcycle accident, as it is also the only thing between you and the road or another vehicle.
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. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, since 2002, an estimated 25,000 lives have been saved by wearing motorcycle helmets.
Eyewear: In New York, eye protection is also required for all riders. All eyewear must obey the standards established by the American National Standard Institute, ANSI – Z87.1. Eye protection must consist of either a helmet with a 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 local traffic laws and 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.
Before you get back on the road after a long season, take some time to familiarize yourself with your motorcycle again. Take your first ride in a neighborhood, an empty parking lot, or down a quiet country road to 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 address any potential issues.
Remaining drug- and alcohol-free while riding may prevent a serious or fatal motorcycle accident. Drugs and alcohol impair one’s judgment, alertness, and reaction time, making it difficult for motorcyclists to balance, shift gears, and control the throttle.