May, which happens to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, is just around the corner, and the AAA Foundation sees no better time to shed some light on the subject of biking best practices, particularly on the heels of a recent report on motorcycle fatalities released last week by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The report found that while motorcycle deaths declined by 2 percent overall in 2010, the third quarter actually saw a spike in fatalities compared to the previous year. This has some experts worried that the upward trend in motorcycle deaths the United States saw from previous years might be returning.
While these numbers could be attributed to a variety of things, such as an improving economy stimulating motorcycle sales or less rain and warm weather extending the riding season, the fact remains that more bikers on the road means more exposure to risk. With temperatures heating up, daylight lingering longer and gas prices soaring, people are likely to dust off the Harleys and hit the open road as both an economic and enjoyable transportation alternative. The Foundation just wants to ensure that in doing so, safely and responsibly remain top of mind for riders.
Motorcycles are entitled to the same rights as any other vehicle on the road, and as such they need to follow the same rules. A motorcyclist has a much greater risk of experience a serious, life-threatening injury in a crash than a driver or passenger of a car because there is far less protection for riders. Most states have implemented helmet laws and encourage riders to take extra precautions before hopping on the back of a bike, like always wearing a helmet, never riding drunk, keeping speed in check, and most importantly receiving the proper training. This is especially true for the baby boom generation—a group that seen a recent uptick in motorcycle registrations—who are reaching retirement age and looking to recapture the riding passion of their youth. No matter the age or the perceived experience level, training is a must for all motorcycle operators.
But make no mistake, the responsibility for keeping our roads safe extends to motorists of every stripe. Car and truck drivers need to be mindful of motorcyclists’ vulnerability and exercise increased caution when encountering them on the road. Sharing the road is the only way to reduce traffic crashes, so do your part this month and every month to be safe behind the wheel … and the handlebars.