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Share the Road: May Is National Motorcycle Awareness Month

May 9, 2017

Our team at the Law Offices of William D. Cook wishes all motorcycle riders in Alaska (and nationwide) a safe and adventurous National Motorcycle Awareness Month. There’s no greater freedom than cruising along on two wheels, the sun shining down and the breeze flowing through your hair. But it’s important to remember that there is an inherent risk in operating any motor vehicle, and riding a motorcycle in particular raises these stakes. 

During the month of May, all drivers are reminded to “share the road.” Motorcyclists have the exact same rights and privileges as other motorists, but they’re also expected to observe the same rules and regulations. On the other hand, car and truck drivers must look out for motorcycle traffic, which means allowing motorcycles ample space and checking mirrors for motorcycle traffic when backing up, attempting to pass another vehicle, or making a lane change.

Whether riding is your occasional hobby or your passion, we encourage all motorcyclists to get out there this month and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. However, before you do so, please take a moment to review the rules and regulations of the road as well as a few safety tips to ensure that your ride is as enjoyable, secure, and as safe as possible.

Protective Gear for Motorcyclists

The State of Alaska requires that all motorcyclists on public roadways wear a helmet. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycles comprised just 3% of all registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2011; however, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities that same year. Additionally, the NHTSA reported that motorcyclists are an astounding 30 times more likely to suffer a fatality in a traffic accident and five times more likely to suffer an injury compared to the drivers of other types of motor vehicles.

Many of these injuries and fatalities could have been prevented with the proper use of a riding helmet, so be sure to strap on this critical protection before you hit the open road. The law also requires that riders whose motorcycles don’t have a windscreen or windshield wear protective eye gear, like goggles, sun glasses, or a helmet face mask, when riding on the open road.

Leather Up for Safety

Motorcycle-appropriate clothing can help protect you from both the elements and impacts. Despite the lack of regulation regarding protective clothing, it’s imperative that all riders wear proper clothing when riding. Leather is usually the best choice, as leather jackets, pants, and chaps can greatly reduce the risk or severity of intense road rash, lacerations, or broken bones in the event of an accident.

Make sure that your leathers fit close to the skin while also providing enough flexibility to allow you to effectively operate your motorcycle. Dress for the ride; there’s nothing rebellious or cool about permanent scarring or compound fractures.

Motorcycle Safety for Traditional Motorists

Motorcycles are far more maneuverable than cars, trucks, and vans, and they are also much smaller and harder to see, especially at high speeds. Their size can make them appear faster and farther away than they really are, which can lead to overzealous drivers taking unnecessary risks or performing dangerous maneuvers. Therefore, it’s important that traditional motorists take extra caution to “share the road” with their two-wheeled brethren.

Here are three quick tips that can help encourage a safe, shared roadway:

  1. The 4-Second Rule: Always keep at least a four-second cushion between you and a motorcycle, especially at higher speeds. Motorcycles are more prone to abrupt braking and spontaneous acceleration.
  2. Weather Warriors: Driving in inclement weather can be difficult for all motorists, but it especially creates additional crash risk for motorcycles, which aren’t equipped for such conditions. If you spot a motorcyclist in the rain, sleet, or snow, be extra mindful of them, as they likely do not have the sort of fine control over their vehicle that they would under normal circumstances.
  3. Keep Your Head on a Swivel: Again, due to the speed, size, and maneuverability of motorcycles, they can be difficult to spot. Double-check your mirrors before changing lanes or reversing, and never make a turn without performing a thorough check of intersecting traffic.

Often times, it seems as though motorcyclists and other drivers are at odds with one another, but this shouldn’t be the case. Always remember that behind that wheel or those handlebars is a father, a mother, a doctor, or a teacher – a human being. Mini-van drivers aren’t all soccer moms and motorcyclists aren’t all rebels without a cause; they’re real people with real families. Drive and ride safe, dress appropriately, perform regular maintenance inspections, and treat other motorists with respect, and you should be good to go!

The Law Office of William D. Cook: Advocates for Injured Motorcycle Riders

We hope the information in this article will help you stay safe as you ride. However, even the best safety advice can’t prevent an accident caused by someone else’s negligent behavior. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered an injury as a result of another motorist’s negligence, experienced motorcycle accident attorney William D. Cook is here to help.

We offer free consultations, and our contingent fee policy ensures that you do not pay a dime in fees or expenses unless we help you recover financial compensation for your injuries. Please call us today at (907) 694-2000 or complete this form to speak with an attorney for a free consultation at no risk to you.

References

May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month. (2013, May 8). Motorcycle.com. Retrieved from http://www.motorcycle.com/rider-safety/may-is-motorcycle-safety-awareness-month-91599.html

Sharing the road with motorcycles. (2016). Esurance. Retrieved from https://www.esurance.com/info/car/sharing-the-road-with-motorcycles

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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