This month is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Each year, national, state, and local organizations join together to promote public awareness of the dangers of motorcycle riding and ways to help keep motorcyclists safe from harm on our roads.
This year, once again, Indiana and Illinois will both be involved in this national public safety campaign throughout the month of May. However, Indiana and Illinois will be taking different perspectives on the issue with Indiana focusing more on the motorcyclist’s safety and awareness while Illinois delves into educating drivers sharing the roads with motorcyclists on how best to avoid a crash.
In fact, Illinois has established its own web site, StartSeeingMotorcycles.org, with information that includes not only research studies and safety tips, but information on free motorcycle courses and more. Go here for more information.
Indiana — Motorcycle Safety Awareness For the Motorcyclist
Indiana Governor Mike Pence has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in proclaiming May 2016 to be Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month in the State of Indiana. Hoosiers will be seeing various programs and campaigns throughout the month that encourage motorcyclists to be as safe as possible when riding their bikes (as well as helping other drivers to be more aware of motorcycles on the road with them).
We encourage all motorcyclists to ride responsibly and respectfully. To ride free of impairment and make certain they are properly licensed to operate a motorcycle. We recommend that all riders take a formal rider education course, as studies have indicated that 90% of crash involved riders are self taught.
There are several safety tips for motorcyclists provided by Indiana’s program. These include:
• Wear a U.S. DOT-approved helmet, face or eye protection and protective clothing.
• Know your motorcycle and conduct a pre-ride check.
• Be seen. Wear reflective clothing and put reflective tape on your protective riding gear and motorcycle.
• Use common sense by riding sober, obeying all speed limits and allowing enough time to react to dangerous situations.
• Practice safe riding techniques and know how to handle your motorcycle in adverse road and weather conditions. Road conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces that usually pose minor annoyances to motorists are in fact major hazards for motorcyclists. Report these hazardous conditions through www.roadhazard.org.
• Consider taking a rider course (www.abateonline.org)
• During spring riding, be cautious of gravel buildup from winter road maintenance on the edges of roadways and near intersections. Riders can report hazardous conditions due to gravel along the road at www.roadhazard.org.
Illinois — Motorcycle Safety Awareness For Those Who Share the Roads With the Motorcyclist
In Illinois, this month’s campaign will focus on driver awareness of motorcycles sharing the roads with them. The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) is promoting its “Start Seeing Motorcycles” campaign all month.
Additionally, the Illinois Governor (himself an avid motorcyclist) has proclaimed May 2016 to be “Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois.”
“I ride my motorcycle as often as possible, and many weeks between Chicago and Springfield, so I know the importance of sharing the road. Everyone needs to do their part. All drivers should be on the lookout for motorcycles at all times, but riders have to be extra cautious. Together, we can make this the safest year ever for motorcycle riders in Illinois.”
From the Illinois ABATE campaign, here is a list of “What all Drivers Should Know about Motorcycles,” with information that you as a driver of a car, truck, minivan, or SUV may not be aware:
• Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say 3 or 4 seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
• Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders, (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. Make sure a motorcycle’s signal is for real.
• Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of wind, road debris, and passing vehicles. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off.
• Because of its small size a motorcycle seems to be moving faster than it really is. Don’t think motorcyclists are speed demons.
• Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
• Because of its small size, a motorcycle can easily be hidden by objects inside or outside of a car, such as: door posts, mirrors, passengers, bushes, fences, bridges, blind spots, etc. Take an extra moment to thoroughly check traffic, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.
• Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes quick stopping difficult. Allow a motorcyclist more following distance because it can’t always stop “on a dime.”
• Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, but only at slower speeds and with good road conditions. Don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.
• Carrying a passenger complicates a motorcyclist’s task. Balance is more difficult. Stopping distance is increased. Maneuverability is reduced. Predict more problems when you see two on a motorcycle, especially near intersections.
• Mirrors are smaller on a motorcycle and are usually convex, thus giving a motorcyclist a smaller image of you and making you seem farther back than you really are. Keep at least a three or four second space cushion when following a motorcyclist.
• There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcycle and ignore it (usually unintentionally). Look for motorcycles, especially when checking traffic at an intersection.
• At night, single headlights and taillights of motorcycles can blend into the lights of other traffic. Those “odd” lights could be a motorcycle.
• When a motorcycle is in motion, don’t think of it as motorcycle; think of it as a person.