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Motorcycle safety awareness

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Steven W. Flamming
  • 55th Security Forces Squadron
Driving can be a dangerous thing, especially if you're on a motorcycle trying your best to avoid other drivers unaware of your presence. Wouldn't it be nice if someone taught these drivers about motorcycle safety? Welcome to May 2010.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. During this time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages drivers to become more aware of motorcycles on the road, especially during the warmer summer riding months.

This observance is part of a national initiative aimed at getting motorists, as well as motorcyclists, to share the road with one another.

With this in mind, road users should never drive, bike or walk while distracted. Doing so can result in tragic consequences for yourself, motorcyclists or other road users.

Motorists should also allow motorcyclists a full lane of width, even though it may appear there's enough room when a car and a motorcycle occupy the same lane, a motorcycle needs additional room to maneuver safely. Don't share the lane.

All motorists should also remember that motorcycle operators have the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle on the road. Motorists should be extra cautious when near motorcycles on roadways. Motorcycles, because of their much smaller profile, may be difficult to see. This can make it more difficult to judge the speed of a motorcycle or the distance of an approaching motorcycle.

Additionally, a motorcyclist can be hidden in a vehicle's blind spot. Always conduct a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic or intersections.

Drivers should always signal their intentions as well before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position. Don't be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle; motorcycle signals may not be self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait for the motorcycle to turn before you proceed.

Also, remember that road conditions may be minor annoyances to motorists but can pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Riders may change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly because of road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel and wet or slippery surfaces.

Another thing to always remember is to allow at least three to four seconds following distance when following a motorcycle so the rider has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

Motorcycles are also allowed to park in hashed-off areas, provided these areas aren't adjacent to a handicapped parking spot.

For more information about motorcycle safety, call the 55th Wing Safety Office at 294-6357 or the 55th Security Forces Squadron at 294-6240.