Irving, Texas – May 1, 2014 - Every year, the arrival of May brings the beginning of motorcycle riding season, as well as national Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. To help spur a reduction in the alarming incidence of motorcycle accidents, the National Motor Club (NMC) - one of the nation's largest independent motor clubs - is reminding motorists and motorcyclists alike to "share the road" and follow sound safety practices, in order to help prevent motorcycle crashes, injuries and deaths.
NMC is supporting this awareness-raising initiative by sharing safety tips with drivers and motorcyclists across the country - including hundreds of thousands of NMC members. The educational campaign will include a month of media outreach, as well as a series of informative e-mail and social media alerts.
"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 Matt Krzysiak, CEO of National Motor Club. "We have observed that fatal crashes involving motorcycles are on the rise, and helmet usage is on the decline. These facts are disturbing, to say the least. Our company believes in promoting and sharing information about safe driving, so we are urging everyone to be more aware of motorcyclists while driving, in order to save lives."
The following facts and statistics on motorcycle safety, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), further illustrate the seriousness of this issue:
- 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.
- The number of injured motorcyclists also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012.
- Helmet usage is on the decline, dropping from 66 percent of motorcyclists wearing helmets in 2011 to only 60 percent in 2012. The decrease was most significant among motorcycle passengers, decreasing from 64 percent in 2011 to 46 percent in 2012.
- The NHTSA estimates that 1,617 lives were saved in 2011 because of proper helmet usage, but another 701 lives could have been saved if helmets had been worn.
Embracing this important cause and recognizing the need for change, NMC offers the following additional safety tips:
- When riding on a motorcycle, wear a helmet. Motorcyclists and their passengers should always remember to wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear while riding a motorcycle. Also wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
- Commit your full attention to driving. Tasks that compete for motorcyclists' and drivers’ attention - including even hands-free cell phone conversations - cause them to miss important information from the roadway environment, such as other vehicles' movements, traffic, road conditions, the presence of pedestrians or cyclists, signs and potential hazards.
- Watch closely for road hazards. A motorcycle has less contact with the pavement than a car. A bike can slide unexpectedly from sand, wet leaves or pebbles and can easily result in a spill. When driving a car, you can barely notice small things such as bumps and potholes, but they can pose a more serious danger when on a bike. If there is no way to avoid them, slow down as much as possible before encountering them, with minimal steering input.
- Watch the weather. Checking the weather is an important and vital step before riding a motorcycle. If heavy rain, snow or ice is predicted, leave the bike at home. If you absolutely must ride in the rain, don't ride right after the storm starts. Give the rain time to clear the road for you of oil and other slippery residue. Then, when you're on your way, be extra cautious. Go slowly, leave plenty of space for stopping, and if the weather gets worse, stop and wait it out.
- Be aware of all road and safety laws, and take extra care. This applies equally to motorcyclists and drivers of cars or other vehicles.
- Motorcycles have all of the full rights of the road and obligations as any other motorist. Motorcyclists should:
- Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
- Ride in the middle of the lane to enhance visibility to other drivers.
- Obey all traffic laws be properly licensed.
- When driving a car, truck or RV:
- Allow nearby motorcycles the full width of a lane at all times.
- 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.