May kicks off Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, an initiative supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). With spring well underway, riders are hitting the highways and byways, and this serves as a reminder to all drivers to be mindful that motorcycles are sharing the road.
According to NHTSA, motorcyclists were 25 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a crash and five times more likely to be injured based on miles traveled in 2009. The risks are real.
Motorcycle safety is a two-way street. Automobile drivers need to be vigilant to look for motorcycles, recognizing that motorcyclists have all the same rights and privileges. But, they can be harder to see, behave differently, and are far more vulnerable to road hazards and impacts. Simple things like always using your turn signal, even if you don't see another vehicle around, and scrupulously checking mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes can potentially avert disaster.
Riders need to likewise be mindful that they are indeed at risk. Following the lessons from a safety course will go a long way to reduce those dangers. Situational awareness is key, as is simply staying visible. Generous following distances, bright-colored clothing and DOT-compliant helmet, and an aversion to car blind spots will make a difference.
Harley-Davidson recently announced a significant 25-percent sales increase this past quarter, compared against the same period last year. And the company cites one-third of sales last year were to new riders. A good sign for the economy, but it is also signal that many less-experienced motorcyclists are hitting the road. (See the latest Harleys.)
Let's all be careful out there.
See our motorcycle and scooter buying advice to learn more about rider safety.