The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee today announced that May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. This designation serves to remind motorists to watch for motorcyclists and stresses the importance of motorcycle safety as more bikes are on the roads with the onset of warmer weather.
“We urge motorists to watch for motorcyclists and safely share the road with them,” said Terri Egan, Deputy Commissioner of Safety, Consumer Protection, & Clean Air for the Department of Motor Vehicles. “Safe riding practices and cooperation from all those on the roadways will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries. Whether you’re riding or driving, everyone needs to share the responsibility of keeping the roadways safe.”
In 2013, there were more than 5,100 motorcycle crashes in New York State, resulting in 171 fatalities and more than 5,000 injuries. Nationally, 4,668 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a decrease from 2012 (4,986). Those deaths account for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year, despite motorcycle registrations representing only 3 percent of all vehicles in the United States in 2013.
“Through the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers training courses to match a variety of skill levels and rider experience,” said Foundation Program Manager Ben Zadrozny. “Whether you are new to motorcycling or have been riding for years, training is an essential part of being safe on the road. The best place for a new rider to start once they’ve made the decision to ride is by completing a MSF Basic RiderCourse.”
New York continues to see steady increases in the number of licensed motorcyclists, with the most recent count over 700,000. The sustained popularity of motorcycles and the vulnerability of riders underscores the need to continually address safety issues to protect motorcyclists on the roadways, said Egan.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than occupants of cars to die in a crash, and five times more likely to be injured.
The following are some tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on our roadways.
Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width – never try to share a lane.
Perform a 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.
Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
Never drive while distracted.
Motorcyclists can increase their safety by:
Avoiding riding in poor weather conditions.
Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet.
Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it.
Combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves.
Using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity.
Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers.
Never driving while impaired.
More information can be found by visiting the DMV’s Web site at www.dmv.ny.gov, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Web site at www.safeny.ny.gov, or the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program Web site at www.nysmsp.org