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Thursday, July 03, 2008

“Share the Road” With Motorcycles

Motorcyclists Are at Risk from Other Drivers - Help Make This a Year When Motorcycle Fatalities Do Not Increase.

With warmer weather here, more motorcycles are back out on the road – and the drivers of passenger vehicles need to be alert. Here are some tips to remember:

• Motorcycles are small and drivers of other vehicles may have a hard time seeing them. Motorcycles also have a much smaller profile than other vehicles, which can make it difficult to gauge the speed and distance of an approaching bike.

• Drivers of other vehicles involved in a motorcycle crash often say they never saw the motorcyclist and were could not respond in time. A motorcyclist is much more vulnerable and in much greater danger physically than are other vehicle drivers in the event of a crash. The fact is that in 2006, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash.

Motorcyclist Deaths Are On the Rise

In 2006, motorcycle rider fatalities increased for the ninth straight year, to 4,810 deaths. That means motorcyclists were involved in over one out of nine U.S. road fatalities during 2006. Fifty-five percent of 2006 motorcycle fatalities involved another vehicle in the crash besides the motorcycle.

In 2006, 93 percent of all two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle in which the motorcycle operator died occurred on non-interstate roadways, while 51 percent were intersection crashes. In 40 percent of the crashes, the other vehicle was turning left when the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle.

Sharing the Road

Motorcycles enjoy the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle on the roadway. Try following these steps to help keep motorcyclists safe:

• Do not share the lane! It may seem like there is enough room for both an automobile and a motorcycle, but the motorcycle needs the full room to maneuver safely. Give a motorcyclist the full lane width.

• Always signal before changing lanes or merging with traffic, which allows the motorcyclist to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.

• Because of their smaller size, motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look. Always check mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

• Motorcycle signals usually are not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.

• Road conditions which are minor annoyances to passenger vehicles pose major hazards to motor­cyclists. Remember that motorcyclists may need to 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 three or four seconds of distance when following a motorcycle so the biker has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

• Do not tailgate. On dry surfaces, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

• Too often, the drivers of other vehicles involved in a crash say they never saw the motorcyclist and failed to respond in time. This is no excuse for lives being lost.

Along with motor vehicle safety, driver education helps ensure the safety of Americans. Whether you're getting your Commercial Drivers License, your Learner's Permit, or your Motorcycle License, America's Driver's License Headquarters is

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