Be sure to put your safe driving practices into action for Monday’s commute because you will likely be seeing an increase in the number of motorcycles on the road, and hopefully a decrease in traffic. Monday, June 16th is Motorcycle and Scooter Ride to Work Day, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Ride to Work is a non-profit organization that advocates for and supports the use of motorcycles and scooters for transportation. The organization aims to educate the public about the everyday utility of riding. Ride to Work Day was created as an opportunity to display the presence and numbers of motorcyclists to the general public and legislators. It also serves as a means of demonstrating the benefits of motorcycling, such as reductions in traffic congestion, parking, and economic fuel use.
FACTS AND FIGURES
While there are many benefits to riding, the danger of a fatal motorcycle accident is perpetually present. Between 1986 and 1999, California enjoyed a 13-year decline in motorcycle-involved fatal and severe injury collisions. However, starting in 1999, these numbers steadily increased over a 10-year period, peaking in 2008. Injured motorcyclists also increased up from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012. Therefore, safe riding practices and cooperation from all road users are essential to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways.
TIPS FOR MOTORCYCLE DRIVERS
If you plan on riding your motorcycle to work Monday, or any other day, here are a few tips from the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) to keep in mind while out on the road:
- Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
- Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
- 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.
- Never ride distracted or impaired.
Have you ever seen a motorcycle drive between the lanes and wonder if it’s legal? In the state of California, it is. The California Motorcyclist Safety Program calls it lane splitting. “The term lane splitting, sometimes known as lane sharing, filtering or white-lining, refers to the process of a motorcyclist riding between lanes of stopped or slower moving traffic or moving between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a traffic light.” CMSP offers the following guidelines for competent motorcyclists who choose to lane split:
- Travel at a speed that is no more than 10 MPH faster than other traffic. The risk of an accident increases at higher speed differentials.
- It is not advisable to lane split when traffic flow is at 30 mph or faster.
- Typically, it is more desirable to split between the #1 and #2 lanes than between other lanes.
- Consider the total environment in which you are splitting, including the width of the lanes, size of surrounding vehicles, as well as roadway, weather, and lighting conditions
- Be alert and anticipate possible movements by other road users
TIPS FOR DRIVERS
Since motorcyclists and drivers share the road, they also share the responsibility of safe driving. If you are driving a car or other large vehicle, follow these pointers:
- Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
- Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
- 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.
Always remember to drive attentively and safely to ensure an enjoyable and efficient commute!
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