Drivers Take Notice: It's Spring, Motorcyclists Are Hitting the Road

Story Number: NNS180515-18Release Date: 5/15/2018 3:22:00 PM
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By Michael J. Morris, Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- With warmer weather comes an increase in motorcyclists hitting the road, often catching drivers by surprise.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) 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 be 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 DOT-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 Navy shipmates. While the national numbers have not been released for 2017, the Navy recorded 21 Sailors died in motorcycle crashes during fiscal year 2017.

* Drivers should allow a following distance of 3-4 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 motorcycles 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 rear-view 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 motorcycles and by keeping headlights on at all times to improve the chances of being seen by other drivers.

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. Safe riding and cooperation from all motorists can help reduce the number of incidents. Remember to stay alert, use common sense, and always be courteous on the road.

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