May: National Motorcycle Awareness Month

With the weather warming up and summer just around the corner, it is important to “brush up” on motorcyclist awareness both as a driver and someone who shares the road with motorcyclists. May is also “National Motorcycle Awareness Month” and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has made an effort to educate both drivers and other motorists on motorcycle safety and how to properly “share the road” with motorcyclists1.

Motorcycle fatalities have increased over the last 15 years (with the exception of 2009) and it is important to keep the following in mind when driving in the warmer months when there are more motorcylists2:

  • Road users should never drive, bike, or walk while distracted.  Doing so can result in tragic consequences for everyone on the road, including motorcyclists.
  • A motorcyclist has the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as any other motorist on the roadway.
  • 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. Do not share the lane: a motorcyclist needs room to maneuver 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.
  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle—it may not be self-canceling 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 distance – three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle; this gives the motorcycle rider more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Motorcycle riders may suddenly need to change speed or adjust lane position to avoid hazards such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.

In addition, here are some safety tips for motorcyclists (furnished by

  • Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed. In 2011, more than one-fifth of motorcycle riders (22%) involved in fatal crashes were riding with invalid licenses at the time of the collision.
  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and use reflective tape and gear to be more visible. NHTSA estimates helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011.
  • Never ride while impaired or distracted—it is not worth the risk of killing or injuring yourself or someone else. Plus, a DUI costs $10,000 on average, and can lead to jail time, loss of your driver’s license, and higher insurance rates.

If you or someone you know was involved in a motorcycle-related accident, please contact the law offices of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP for more information.