TOPEKA, Kan. – June 22, 2018 – Summertime and Kansas’ wide-open highways are popular draws for many motorcycle riders. But because motorcyclists are six times more likely to be injured and 27 times more likely to be killed in a crash than car occupants, AAA Kansas is reminding bikers and motorists alike of the dangers of motorcycles as well as safety precautions to prevent the tragedy of motorcycle crashes.
“Everyone can do their part to safely share the road, especially between May and September, when motorcyclists are more likely to take advantage of good weather and go for a ride,” said Jennifer Haugh, AAA Kansas spokeswoman. “In the most recent Kansas crash statistics, more than 50 people were killed and nearly 900 people were injured in motorcycle crashes.”
2016 national data shows 5,286 people died in motorcycle crashes – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008 and an increase of 5.1 percent.
Ways motorcyclists can stay safer while riding
“One of the most common reasons drivers give for cutting off or pulling out in front of a motorcycle is that they ‘didn’t see it,’” AAA Kansas’ Haugh said.
AAA Kansas explains that bikers can prevent crashes and injuries by taking the following safety precautions:
- Before you ride, check tire pressure and tread depth. Make sure brakes, headlights and signal indicators are in working order.
- Make sure any cargo is secure and balanced, and adjust suspension and tire pressure to accommodate extra weight.
- Always ride with a helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard – look for the “DOT” symbol on the outside back of the helmet. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Yet only 19 states and the District of Columbia mandate helmet use by all riders. (In Kansas, only motorcyclists age 17 or younger are required to wear a helmet.)
- Don’t stop with a helmet. Wear other protective gear, such as motorcycle gloves, jacket and pants, eyewear and closed-toe footwear.
- Make yourself visible. Keep your lights on, wear bright colors and use reflective tape, even during the daytime. Position yourself in the lane where drivers can see you.
- Follow traffic laws, always use turn signals, and combine hand signals with turn signals when you can to make your intentions even more clear.
- Stay three to four seconds behind a vehicle you intend to pass, checking oncoming traffic from the left side of the lane, signaling the intention to turn, and then checking for oncoming traffic before passing.
- Check your rearview mirror and quickly turn your head to ensure the vehicle is a safe distance behind you when completing a pass.
- Never ride impaired – 26 percent of fatally injured riders in 2016 were driving under the influence of alcohol, according to IIHS.
Sharing the road with bikers
Motorists can help to make the roads safer for motorcyclists by taking simple precautions:
- Be extra cautious on weekends, when more motorcyclists take to the road.
- Provide motorcyclists adequate room to maneuver. Follow at least three to four seconds behind them.
- Allow extra maneuvering room in areas with potholes, pavement transitions and railroad crossings. Motorcyclists may need to slow down, stop or adjust their lane position.
- Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Motorcycles have the same right to lanes as any other vehicle.
- Check mirrors and blind spots for motorcyclists before entering or leaving lanes of traffic and at intersections. Motorcycles may difficult to see because of their smaller size.Most multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes occur when drivers simply didn’t see the motorcyclist. Both motorcyclists and drivers are responsible for sharing the road.
- Signal before changing lanes or merging with traffic. Even when signaling, allow enough time to determine a motorcyclist's intention before you proceed.
- Increase following distance behind motorcycles and provide enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.