With the warmer weather arriving, motorcycles are starting to hit the roads again. Despite the objections of many of my family members who feel motorcycles are dangerous, I recently obtained a motorcycle license. Because of this, I thought it was fitting to highlight some of the safety issues when it comes to sharing the road with other vehicles.
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and different organizations such as the National Safety Council will be encouraging motorists to share the road with motorcyclists while also reminding everyone to be extra alert on the road. While in the process of getting my motorcycle license, I learned many different safety tips that I would like to share with you.
Motorcycles are much more vulnerable to crashes than other vehicles. Accidents and collisions usually occur because motorcycles are hidden in a larger vehicle’s blind spot. When you are driving, keep an eye out and treat motorcycles with the same respect as other vehicles. When changing lanes, be especially watchful; the same can be said for cyclists. If you drive a motorcycle remember that drivers cannot always see you, so be extra careful while on busy streets and highways.
When sharing the road with motorcyclists, avoid following too closely and allow greater distance between you and a motorcycle than you would with another vehicle. Also, never try to share a line and give a motorcycle the full lane width.
It is recommended that cyclists avoid riding in poor weather conditions. Check your local weather stations to make sure you aren’t caught in a storm. Also, always use turn signals for lane changes and position your motorcycle where you will be out of a motorist’s blind spot. A good tip for motorcyclists: if can’t see the driver of a vehicle then they most likely cannot see you.
Of course, one of the main safety precautions you can take as a cyclist is to wear a helmet. Many sports require players to wear helmets for their protection, and motorcycling is no exception. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle helmets do not interfere with a rider’s vision or hearing, and saved 1,617 lives in 2011. The NHTSA also reported that 703 more lives in our country could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
This past session, I co-authored a bill to create safer roads for motorcyclists. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1080 authorizes a motorcycle, approaching an intersection controlled by a stoplight to continue through the intersection on a steady red signal as if it was a four way stop. The motorcyclists must first come to a complete stop and wait at least two minutes before they can proceed. Many traffic signals cannot detect motorcycles which can cause danger for the driver and other motorists on the road. This new law will make it safer for all Hoosier drivers.
Precautions should be taken by motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists to insure everyone’s safety. If you would like to receive your motorcycle’s learner’s permit, visit the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles at http://www.in.gov/bmv/. I also took part in the American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) educational course in Indiana. You can visit their website at http://www.abateofindiana.org/