Ready to Celebrate? It's Motorcycle Awareness Month!

Aside from taking the riding world one month closer to the summer months of open roads, May is also Motorcycle Awareness Month, thirty-one days of reminding road-users to look out for bikers.

Admittedly, motorcycle safety organizations and state highway departments also use the month to offer tips to bikers, such as what to wear as well as how to ride.

If we were to report all the events around the country that kicked-off Motorcycle Awareness Month, not even the parents of Clutch and Chrome staffers would read this article all the way to the end. From elaborately staged events kicking-off ‘Share the Road’ campaigns to press releases full of safety tips, Motorcycle Awareness Month went from 0-60 in just a weekend.

Neon t-shirts with ‘Do you see me now’ printed on the back in big, bold letters were the biker fashion of choice at a celebration organized by Texas’ Department of Transportation. TxDOT officials joined city leaders, emergency medical personnel and motorcyclists to launch the “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign.    

         

“What we’re seeing is that our vehicles are not paying attention when they are at a stop sign. They’re not looking to the left, to the right and to the left again, and they are pulling out in front of that motorcyclist,” said Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Robbie Barrera.

Among the top issues affecting motorcyclist safety this year are distracted driving and over-reliance on new driver-assist technology.

“Also, they are not paying attention when they want to turn left. The motorcycle, which is smaller than a passenger car, is heading the opposite direction and they’re turning in front of those,” Barrera said. “So, the message that we need to get out there is to look twice.”

Distracted driving is dangerous for all road users, claiming 3,477 lives in 2015 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another 391,000 people were injured in crashes that involved distracted driving.

Distractions include any activity that takes the driver’s focus off driving. The NHTSA provides these examples: talking or texting on a phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in the vehicle and fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system.

The American Motorcyclist Association could be considered at the heart of Motorcycle Awareness Month. The special month was initially launched by the AMA in the early 1980s and adopted by many state motorcycle-rights organizations, government entities and AMA-sanctioned clubs, and continues to be observed each May.

This year, the motorcycle advocacy group issued a special appeal to motorists to be aware of their driving environment, check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes and watch for motorcyclists.

“With its warmer weather and increased riding, May is an opportune time to educate the non-riding public about the safety issues that motorcyclists face on every outing,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “Our hope is that calling special attention to motorcyclists early in the prime riding season will keep motorists on alert through the summer and fall, as well.”

With the development of driver-assistance technology, such as adaptive cruise control, automated braking and lane-assist, some drivers may believe that distractions, such as texting while driving, hold less potential for harm.

Trusting their cars, instead of their eyes, ears and training, can create dangerous situations for drivers and the nearby traffic. And motorcyclists are at much greater risk when things go awry.

Motorcycle Ohio (MO), part of the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s (ODPS) Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), has partnered with Quaker Steak to kick off its statewide Ride SMART motorcycle safety campaign at five Quaker Steak and Lube locations around the state during their scheduled “Bike Nights,” raising awareness about all aspects of motorcycle safety including: Ride Sober. Ride Motorcycle Endorsed. Ride Alert. Use the Right Gear. Ride Trained. Ride SMART.

The Connecticut State Police released a press release, reminding motorcyclists to be safe as well as offering tips for motorcycle safety awareness month.

Police says Connecticut state law requires motorcyclists to wear eye protection and state police encourage riders to also wear helmets that meet CT and U.S. DOT standards. However, if riders want the best possible chance in the event of an accident, Police note leather pants, gloves, boots and a jacket also protects riders during falls.

While the month is used to remind other road-users motorcyclists are not only out and about, but they have as much right to the entire lane they’re traveling in, experts are quick to pass along defensive riding tips. Among these are to avoid riding vehicles’ blind spots and be even more cautious at intersections and during bad weather.

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