For many motorcyclists, the riding season kick starts in March with Daytona Bike Week. But for the general driving public, May is when they start noticing many more motorcycles on the road—though far too many drivers don’t notice them or their riders. That’s why May has been named Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
Understanding the problem
Safely operating a motor vehicle starts with focusing on good driving practices. That begins with avoiding distractions. Whether it’s using a cell phone, eating, drinking, or other in-vehicle activities, drivers create many distractions for themselves. Most car and truck drivers don’t understand how vulnerable motorcycle riders are in traffic and aren’t necessarily looking out for them. The Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month campaign works toward making motorcycles a part of everyone’s safe driving mindset.
Being seen and safe
While the campaign strives to increase motorcycle Safety Awareness for car and truck drivers, as a bike rider, you also need to take steps to be seen and safe. The first step is understanding the challenge the average driver has in seeing you in traffic. Those challenges include:
- Size: Because of their small size, motorcycles appear to be farther away than they actually are.
- Visibility: Motorcycles can easily be hidden in a driver’s blind spot.
- Signaling: Some bike turn signals are not self-canceling, which can send the wrong message to surrounding drivers.
- Movement: The ability to avoid surface hazards that car drivers don’t see, can make motorcycle movements seem erratic.
- Confusion: At night, a single headlight looks like a car a long distance away.
- Appearance: Black leather riding gear disappears in the dark of night.
You should also expect that other vehicles may violate your right-of-way. Start by actively scanning for hazards. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Search-Evaluate-Execute (SEE) strategy offers these tips:
- Adjust your speed, space cushion, and lane position to be more visible in traffic and maintain time and space to react to right-of-way violations
- Add additional lights to your motorcycle
- Always use turn signals and cancel them after the turn
- High visibility vests like what highway construction workers wear are inexpensive and are effective day and night
- Expect the unexpected
- Always wear all your safety gear, all the time
For more tips on being seen and safe while riding your motorcycle, here’s a link to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation publication:
Till next time, ride safe!
If you’re looking for more suggestions for staying safe on the roads, check out our Safety section.
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