May is recognized as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time when law enforcement agencies and safety advocates team to remind drivers that the warmer weather means more motorcyclists are hitting the road.
In California alone, there are more than 884,000 registered motorcycles and more than 1.4 million licensed riders, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Motorcyclists and drivers both share equal responsibility for roadway safety,” said Joe Farrow, California Highway Patrol commissioner. “Motorcyclists are sometimes hard to see and are more vulnerable to collisions than other drivers. Be alert, share the road, and look twice for riders.”
Here’s some advice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that you can pass along to fleet drivers as a friendly reminder:
- Remember, motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway.
- Allow the motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem as though there is enough room in the traffic lane for an automobile and a motorcycle, remember the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
- Especially when you turn left, keep in mind that approximately one-half of all motorcycle crashes involve another motor vehicle. Nearly 40% were caused by the other vehicle turning left in front of the motorcyclist.
- Remember, motorcycles are small and may be difficult to see. Motorcycles have a much smaller profile than vehicles, which can make it more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows the motorcyclist to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
- Remember that motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look because of their smaller size. Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
- Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Motorcycle signals aren’t always self-canceling, and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
- Remember that road conditions that are minor annoyances to you pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists may change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
- Allow more following distance — four seconds — behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.