May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Indiana. As warmer weather is just around the corner, more motorcycles will be on the road – it is a “rite of spring”. While most motorcyclists are trained to ride defensively, car and truck drivers have been a major danger to these ghost riders – invisible to many motorists. According to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, last year 98 riders were killed in motorcycle crashes in the state. Statistics from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute show that in “failure to yield right of way” crashes involving motorcycles, other vehicles were at fault 85 percent of the time.
Sharing the Road with Motorcycles
Motorcyclists are often referred to as ghost riders, as they are hard to spot. Keep your eyes open for motorcycles when changing lanes – they could be hiding in your blind spot! Also remember, large vehicles block a motorcycle from a motorist’s view, and they can suddenly appear near your vehicle.
Allow more following distance – leave at least 3-4 seconds when following a motorcycle, always signal your intentions before changing lanes, and remember – a motorcycle has the same rights to share the road with other drivers. Please allow a motorcyclist a full lane width as the motorcyclist needs the room to maneuver safely in all types of road conditions.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Since 1975, the nonprofit organization ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) of Indiana has worked toward promoting the safety of motorcyclists. Their Safety Tips for Motorcyclists offer riders tips on improving their safety on the road:
• 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.
• 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.