The St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program is urging motorists to “share the road” to help prevent motorcycle crashes, deaths and injuries.
“Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather gets warmer, which is why May is the perfect time for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month,” said Mary Davison, Traffic Safety Information Specialist.
Statistics show an alarming trend: in 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a continued increase from 2010. Those deaths account for 15 percent of the total highway fatalities that year. Injured motorcyclists also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012.
In St. Lawrence County, there were an average of 40 injuries and one death per year during the period from 2010-2012.
“Nation-wide, fatal crashes with motorcycles are on the rise. We all need to be more aware of motorcyclists in order to save lives,” Davison said.
Davison offered these tips to drivers on how to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle:
• Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
• Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
• If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
• Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
• Always allow more following distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
• Never drive distracted or impaired.
Motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these steps:
• Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
• Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
• Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
• Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
• Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
• Never ride distracted or impaired.
“It’s up to all motorists and motorcyclists to make our roads safer,” said Ms. Davison. “All road users need to share the responsibility of keeping the roadways safe. By following road signs, obeying speed limits, and always staying focused on the road, deaths and injuries could be prevented.”
For more information on motorcycle safety, contact Mary Davison at 379-2306 or visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Web site, www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles.