With warmer weather right around the corner, motorcyclists will soon be out in force. That’s why May is designated Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month—a national initiative designed to encourage drivers of all other kinds of vehicles to “share the road” with each other.
Motorcycles are among the smallest and most vulnerable vehicles on the road and riders are at greater risk of death and serious injury if they are involved in a crash. In fact, according to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of cars, and 5 times more likely to be injured.
Alcohol plays a particularly big role in motorcycle fatalities as it affects those skills essential to riding a motorcycle—balance and coordination. In 2011, 1,390 drunk motorcyclists were involved in fatal crashes. That's a 34% increase from 2002, at the same time as all other drunk driving fatalities decreased significantly. Motorcyclists are the drivers most likely to be driving drunk in fatal crashes—29% of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were above a .08, compared with 24% for cars and 21% for light trucks.
Safety is a mutual responsibility for motorists and motorcyclists alike. Drivers must be aware that a motorcycle, as one of the smallest of vehicles on the road, can be ‘hiding’ in your vehicle’s blind spots. Always check blind spots, use mirrors and signal before changing lanes or making turns.
And as always, no matter what vehicle you are driving, never drive after drinking.