May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Although motorists in Alabama should always be aware of the road and the traffic around them, watching for motorcycles can take extra focus. Because of their smaller size and the difficulty gauging how fast they are moving, motorcyclists are often overlooked, and the results can be fatal. This is one reason that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sponsors Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month each May.

The NHTSA recommends motorist awareness techniques to prevent motorcycle accidents, and some are as simple as the use of vehicle mirrors. Blind spots along the sides and rear of a car, truck or SUV are particularly dangerous for motorcyclists when a driver fails to look before changing lanes or merging. A motorist should never encroach on a rider's lane, allowing the full width for the motorcycle. Three to four seconds of following distance is also important.

Studies show that over 50 percent of the collisions involving motorcycles are caused by motorists each year. According to the most recent data, traffic accidents killed 4,586 motorcycle operators in 2014, and another 88,000 were injured that year. Although these facts indicate that much of the danger to motorcyclists comes from others on the road, they have a responsibility for their own safety, too. Drive Safe Alabama points out that motorcycle operators should never drink and ride, and should do what they can to increase their visibility to other drivers. Safety experts have determined that wearing a helmet is essential to reducing the risk of a fatal injury in a collision with a passenger vehicle.

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