As the temperature rises so do the number of motorcycles out on Minnesota roads – and across the nation for that matter. The month of May has been declared Motorcycle Safety Awareness month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In an effort to support this campaign, I will be publishing a few blogs this month with tips on how to make motorcycling a safer means of transportation for all users of our roadways — because motorcycle safety is an issue for cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
A large part of NHTSA’s message is directed to all motorists to “Share the Road” and be on the lookout for motorcycles. Our firm handles numerous accidents involving motorcyclists every year and one thing we have seen is that the accident is rarely the cyclist’s fault. Nonetheless, motorcyclists should make every effort to make themselves visible by wearing bright colors, using reflective tape and not riding in other motorists’ blind spots.
As for the other, non-cycling motorists on the roads, keep in mind that because motorcycles are small, they can be difficult to see or judge their speed or distance. Here are a few tips for other vehicles on the road:
- Allow a motorcycle a full lane width. Motorcycles need room to maneuver and it is neither safe nor legal for vehicles to share a lane with them.
- Always signal you intentions before changing lanes or merging. This puts the motorcyclist on notice as to your intentions and allows them to find a safe lane position.
- Always check your mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles. This is especially important in before changing lanes and at intersections.
- Allow more following distance – 3 or 4 seconds – behind motorcycles. Motorcycles often have to react to even minor changes in road conditions.
- Don’t be fooled by a motorcycle turning signal. Some motorcycles don’t have self-cancelling turn signals and sometimes cyclists forget to turn them off – don’t assume the cyclist is going to turn and start passing them.
Just remember: Whether you’re riding a motorcycle or driving a vehicle, motorcycle safety is everyone’s responsibility. Share the road.
Think about it.