The Daily Iowegian
---- — In recognition of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the Centerville Police Department reminds motorists and motorcyclists alike to “share the road” conscientiously and courteously to help prevent motorcycle crashes which remain one of the most prevalent causes of death and injury on local roads.
In addition to stressing the mutual responsibilities shared by all users of the road to prevent motorcycle crashes, Chief Tom R. Demry said the safety campaign — initiated by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, state and local safety officials nationwide, and motorcycle safety groups everywhere — will also have increased enforcement by local police throughout May to make sure motorcyclists, and drivers of all types of vehicles, are obeying state and local laws.
“Safety is a mutual responsibility for motorists and motorcyclists alike,” said Chief Demry. “Motorcyclists are about 30 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger vehicle occupants, so whether you are driving the family sedan, an SUV, a school bus, a delivery van, or an 18-wheeler, drivers should always be on the lookout for motorcyclists. Drivers must be aware that a motorcycle, as one of the smallest of vehicles on the road, can be ‘hiding’ in your vehicle’s blind spots. Always check blind spots, use mirrors and signal before changing lanes or making turns.”
He added, “Motorcyclists have responsibilities too. Riders should obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed, alert to other drivers, conspicuous at all times, never ride impaired or distracted, and always wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet and other protective gear.”
This safety advice is particularly timely as motorcycle fatalities in 2011 showed a continued increase to 4,612. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 14 percent of total highway deaths for the year despite motorcycle registrations representing only about 3 percent of all vehicles in the U.S. Chief Demry offered the following 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. The person under that helmet could be a mother, brother, doctor, or friend;
Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width — never try to share a lane;
Perform a regular visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections;
Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic;
Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – 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 to give the motorcyclist time to maneuver around obstacles in the roadway, or stop in an emergency;
Never ride distracted.
Chief Demry said motorcyclists can increase their safety by:
Wearing a DOT-compliant helmet;
Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it;
Signaling intentions by combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves;
Wearing brightly colored protective gear, and using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity;
Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers; and
Never riding 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,” Chief Demry concluded.
For additional information on motorcycle safety, go to www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles.