NHTSA Releases Motorcycle Safety Advisory

The consumer advisory encourages motorists to share the road with motorcyclists to reduce the number of annual highway fatalities.

DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a consumer advisory reminding motorists to share the road with motorcyclists in order to reduce the number of annual highway fatalities. NHTSA released it at the start of May's Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

NHTSA's statistics have shown an increase in motorcycle deaths in recent years. In 2011, 4,630 motorcyclists were killed, while 4,927 were killed in 2012. The number of injured motorcyclists rose from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012. NHTSA also reports that those who ride motorcycles are 26 times more likely to die and five times more likely to be injured in a crash that are those in cars. In addition, the agency reports that helmet usage is declining, falling from 66 percent of motorcyclists wearing them in 2011 to only 60 percent in 2012.

"Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather gets warmer, which is why May is the perfect month for motorcycle safety awareness," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Fatal crashes with motorcycles are on the rise. We all need to be more aware of motorcyclists in order to save lives and make sure we all 'Share the Road.'"

NHTSA published the following safety tips as part of the consumer advisory:

For motorcyclists:

  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
  • Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
  • Never ride distracted or impaired.
  • Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
  • Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
  • Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
  • Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.

For drivers:

  • Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
  • Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
  • Always allow more follow distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
  • Never drive distracted or impaired.
  • Motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
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