With the warmer temperatures and summer right around the corner, Kansans may have noticed more motorcycles on the roads. As a precursor to what is normally the beginning of the riding season, federal, state, and local organizations are recognizing the month of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
“Too many motorcycle riders have been injured or killed on the state’s roadways, the past few years,” Patrol Superintendent, Colonel Terry Maple, said. “We would like to see this trend cease. It is the responsibility of both motorcycle operators and the drivers of other vehicles to drive defensively and safely share the road.”
Motorcycles can present more dangers to their riders than passenger cars and trucks because there is less protection around a rider’s body to keep them safe from injury, should they be involved in a crash. The chance of head injuries increases dramatically for those riders not wearing a helmet. National data indicates that approximately 80-percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a rider, while only 20-percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill an occupant.
Nationally, in 2008, 5,290 motorcycle riders or operators were killed in crashes, and 96,000 were injured. In Kansas in 2008, there were 45 motorcycle operators/riders killed in crashes, and 1,086 injured. There were 1,138 total crashes involving motorcycles in 2008.
To help keep motorcyclists safe on our roadways, follow these tips:
- Remember motorcycles have all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle on the roadway.
- Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width – never try to share a lane.
- Always look for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling, and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is turning before you proceed.
- Remember that road conditions that are minor annoyances to other vehicles pose major hazards to motorcyclists.
- Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. And don’t tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.