Every May, highway officials designate the month as Motorcycle Awareness Month, and for a good reason. There is no way around this fact — there is an inherent danger when riding a motorcycle. Riders are fully exposed in the event of an accident, with no vehicle frame around them. When it comes to fatalities, federal authorities note that motorcycle accidents are leading to more deaths and injuries than ever before. Safety concerns are real as negative statistics continue to rise.
Thousands of bikers are killed every year in motorcycle accidents.
The most recent national statistics available show a steady increase in the number of motorcyclists killed from 2013 to 2016. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also notes that in 2016, more than 5,200 bikers were killed in crashes, which was the largest number of motorcycle fatalities since 2008. Among the thousands of fatalities in 2016, local news reports note that more than 120 occurred right here in Colorado.
Another statistic that may surprise you is one that is contained in press materials being released by federal officials during the month of May to highlight motorcycle safety. This year’s safety campaign is called “Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles,” and as noted in a news release, when it comes to miles traveled, motorcyclists are 27 times as likely as passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle accident, and five times as likely to be injured. That’s why this year’s safety campaign is focusing on how motorcyclists and motorists can work together to keep everyone safe.
Motorcyclists Should Wear Helmets
Though some states don’t require motorcycle drivers to wear a helmet, study after study shows that wearing a helmet can save lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2015, helmets saved more than 1,700 lives. The CDC also notes that if bikers would wear a helmet, deaths due to motorcycle accidents could be reduced by at least 37 percent and injuries could be reduced by nearly 70 percent.
So, why don’t more states require bikers and their passengers to wear helmets? Here in Colorado, those over 18 years old are not required to wear a helmet. The same holds true in several other states, though as noted in the recent federal overview, more states are now requiring helmets to be worn when riding a motorcycle. And, again, for a good reason. Not only can a helmet reduce the risk of death if a biker is involved in a crash, but it can dramatically reduce injury.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists and Others
May is a month when law enforcement emphasizes motorcycle safety. Here are a couple of safety tips available for both cyclists and vehicle drivers who must find a way to share the road safely:
For vehicle drivers:
- Be extra cautious when crossing intersections — always check to make sure a motorcyclist has not veered into your pathway.
- Don’t follow motorcycles too closely. Their brake lights might not always be visible when the driver decelerates.
- Always double-check your blind spots if you are trying to change lanes or merging into roadways; motorcycles are quick, and it can be difficult to see them
- Always follow traffic laws, including speed limits.
- Don’t ever assume a vehicle driver sees you. To enhance your visibility, ride with your headlight on and stay out of drivers’ blind spots.
- Maintain your riding skills by taking courses; developing driving skills can keep you and others safe.