Steer clear: Cars and motorcycles can be deadly mix

Motorcycles made up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2015, but motorcyclists were 29 times more likely than private passenger occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and five times more likely to be injured, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency observes Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May and offers safety tips for motorcyclists and drivers.

Speed was a factor in 33 percent of the motorcycle accidents that resulted in death. That is substantially higher than any other vehicle, NHTSA found. A full 41 percent of the accidents were the result of a rider colliding with another vehicle, but only 6 percent were struck from behind.

Safety is important and often life-saving for a motorcyclist, and all of us who share the roads with them can help by remaining alert.

Motorcyclists who take preventive measures can avoid accidents or serious injuries by:

  • wearing a helmet and reflective clothing
  • maintaining a safe speed
  • not riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • not tailgating or weaving in and out of traffic
  • avoiding riding in inclement weather
  • avoiding cell phone use while driving

Many cities offer motorcycle safety courses that teach how to ride safely and what to do immediately following a crash until help arrives. A motorcyclist wearing a helmet is 37 percent less likely to die of injuries than one not wearing a helmet. No matter how many precautions the motorcyclist takes, he or she cannot always avoid being struck by other vehicles.

When a motorcycle is struck, the impact can be significant, and a light tap that may not cause injuries to the driver of a four-wheeled vehicle could be life-threatening to a motorcyclist. This is why it’s important for motorists to keep an eye out for motorcycles and keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the motorcycle. Always use your turn signals, avoid texting or talking on the phone while driving, and avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The National Safety Council also provides safety information and tips for motorists and motorcyclists.

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