Share the road with motorcycles

Published Apr 10, 2013 at 8:51 am (Updated Apr 10, 2013 at 8:51 am)

T hose who ride motorcycles will be the first to tell you – there is nothing like riding on the open road. It’s a beautiful, relaxing and fun way to pass the time. Now that the warm weather is finally here, cars and trucks will be sharing the road with more motorcycles than in the previous, cold months. So, it’s extremely important for motorists to be aware of the motorcycles and share the road in a safe manner.

According to PennDOT’s Driver & Vehicle Services, in 2012 Pennsylvania had 854,493 licensed motorcyclists – this doesn’t take into account those who ride with only a permit. PennDOT’s Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering reported 3,641 motorcycle crashes in 2011 (data is not yet available for 2012). Of those crashes, 200 were fatal. But, the staggering statistics don’t end there. Live Free Ride Alive, PennDOT’s motorcycle safety campaign, states that per vehicle mile traveled, bikers are 35 times more likely to die in a crash than people traveling in cars.

Obviously, motorcyclists are aware of the risks when they ride. Safety should be a top priority not only for the bikers, but for the rest of us as well. Those traveling in cars and trucks should maintain a safe distance behind motorcycles – in Pennsylvania, a minimum of four seconds distance should be maintained. Motorists should pay attention – don’t text or take your eyes off the road. The most common crash scenario is when a motorcycle is proceeding straight through an intersection while the vehicle makes a left turn in front of the motorcycle.

As for the bikers, while helmets are not required by law in Pennsylvania, it is pretty stupid to go without one. Motorcyclists can do everything by the book, but if they are hit by a car or thrown from the bike, that helmet is all that stands between the road and the biker’s head. Bikers should also wear appropriate riding attire, including sturdy boots or shoes with laces tucked in. Flip flops should never be worn. Likewise, pants and jackets should be worn during all seasons to avoid sunburns and road rash, should a crash occur. Sunglasses not only protect eyes from the sun, but from dust and debris as well. Gloves help with the driver’s grip.

And, it should go without saying, but no one should ever drink and drive. Our hope is that motorcycles, cars and trucks can share the road safely this summer, and bring the number of crashes and fatalities down from previous years.

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