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May is “Motorcycle Awareness Month”

For the past few years, The National Safety Council (NSC) and other safety organizations have designated May as “Motorcycle Awareness Month”. The campaign was started to highlight the dangers and vulnerabilities motorcyclists face when sharing the road with cars and trucks, and to alert cyclists and drivers about what they can do to keep motorcyclists safe.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 5,286 motorcyclists were killed on U.S. roadways in 2017, which is a 5.6% decrease over 2016. Even with this decrease, motorcyclist fatalities occurred 28 times more frequently than passenger vehicle fatalities, based on per mile traveled.

Preliminary studies show that Wisconsin had 77 motorcycle fatalities in 2017; Washington D.C. had the least (2); Alaska the second-least (6); and Florida had the most with 504 deaths.

Experts suspect the reasons for the decrease may be due to bad weather, specifically the strong 2017 hurricane season which curtailed some motorcycle riding. Still, it is too high.

The top reasons for motorcycle accidents and fatalities remain alcohol and drug impairment, distraction, and an aging riding population.

National Safety Council Safety Tips for Motorcyclists and Motorists

The National Safety Council (NSC) encourages motorists to share the road with motorcyclists and to use extra caution when cyclists are near. The following are NSC’s tips for motorists AND motorcyclists.

  • Passenger car drivers must allow greater following distance behind a motorcycle.

  • Drivers also must show extra caution in intersections. Most crashes occur when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist and turns left in front of a motorcycle.

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

  • Motorcyclists should avoid riding in poor weather conditions.

  • Motorcyclists should position their motorcycles to avoid a driver's blind spot.

  • Motorcyclists must use turn signals for every turn or lane change.

"Throughout spring and summer the number of motorcyclists on the road will increase. It is important for both motorists and motorcyclists to be aware of one another," said David Teater, NSC senior director of Transportation Initiatives. "To better defend themselves, motorcyclists should follow the rules of the roadway and wear protective gear, including a Department of Transportation compliant helmet."

Unfortunately, not all states require motorcyclists to wear helmets. With some exceptions, Wisconsin is one of them. We urge all motorcyclists to wear helmets and to make themselves visible to other motorists.

A reminder to all motorists on the road: Share the road!

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