Drivers take notice: Motorcyclists are hitting the road

An Airman from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam rides across the installation after receiving a motorcycle safety briefi ng during Motorcycle Safety Day, April 1, 2016. U.S. Air Force file photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich

Michael J. Morris

Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the All Hands Magazine last month.)

With warmer weather comes an increase in motorcyclists hitting the road, often catching drivers by surprise.

The American Motorcyclist Association, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and the Naval Safety Center are encouraging all motorists to share the road and watch for motorcyclists.

Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on our roads and are frequently hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or blending with traffic.

Drivers can successfully interact with motorcyclists by being alert and taking extra time to look twice for motorcyclists. The majority of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes are generally caused when other drivers don’t see the motorcyclist.

Service members should also be aware of the risks associated with riding a motorcycle. Always make yourself as visible as possible, stay out of blind spots, use Department of Transportation-compliant motorcycle helmets, and stay vigilant.

According to NHTSA data, in 2016 there were 5,286 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, 12 of whom were our Navy shipmates. The Navy recorded 84 motorcycle mishaps for fiscal year 2018 so far, nine of them fatal.

The Naval Safety Center encourages drivers to be aware of their surroundings and watch for motorcyclists, not only during the spring and summer months, but throughout the year.

Motorcyclists should obey the rules of the road and always practice good safety measures to ensure they are more visible to other motorists.

Reducing crashes is a shared responsibility for drivers and motorcyclists alike, practicing safe riding and cooperation. Stay alert, use common sense, and always be courteous on the road.

Tips for safer roads:

• Drivers should allow a following distance of three to four seconds behind a motorcycle to allow enough reaction time on the road.

• All motorists should always use turn signals for every turn or lane change.

• Drivers should also show extra caution at intersections. Crashes often occur when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist approaching an intersection, turning left in front of the motorcycle’s path.

• Drivers should never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Always give a motorcycle the full lane’s width.

• Motorcyclists should practice operational risk management and never split or share a lane with a motor vehicle.

• Motorcyclists should avoid riding in poor weather, but sometimes it occurs unexpectedly. All motorists should take extra care and be more observant during periods of inclement weather.

• Use your vehicle’s rearview and side-view mirrors properly to help eliminate blind spots where small vehicles like motorcycles can be missed. Motorcyclists should position their motorcycles to avoid being in a driver’s blind spot.

• Motorcyclists can improve visibility by applying reflective materials on their motorcycles and by keeping headlights on at all times to improve the chances of being seen by other drivers.

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Category: News