May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. It comes at the start of summer because this is when most motorcyclists hit the open road. Motorcycling in Georgia is a popular pastime and form of commute, but it doesn’t come without risks. In 2016, 173 motorcyclists died in accidents in Georgia. This was a 26% increase from 2014. It’s clear that motorcycle safety is an issue that needs greater awareness. Use these tips to honor Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, decrease the risk of accidents, and increase your safety and that of those around you.
One of the main actions other drivers can take for the safety of motorcyclists is to leave more room around motorcycles. They might be smaller vehicles that take up less space on the roadway, but that doesn’t mean larger vehicles can crowd them. Cars must maintain the same following distance to motorcycles as other cars – about one car length for every 10 mph – in front of and behind the motorcycle (for example, if you are driving 50 mph, you should leave five car lengths between your vehicle and the vehicles in front of and behind you). When passing a motorcyclist, do so with caution. Leave plenty of room and never try to share a lane with a motorcyclist.
Predictability is a key to safe driving as a motorist of any kind. Staying predictable means obeying traffic laws and signs, signaling your intent to make turns or change lanes, following speed limits, and not making any sudden or unexpected moves. As a motorcyclist, staying predictable can help motorists give you enough space to safely maneuver. As a driver, being predictable can help motorcyclists get around you without crashing into you. Always follow all roadway signs, rules, and laws when operating a vehicle in Georgia.
One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is drivers traveling through intersections without yielding the right of way. All drivers should exhibit extra caution when traveling through intersections. Cars making left-hand turns are especially dangerous to oncoming motorcyclists. The motorist might not see the smaller motorcycle coming or may miscalculate the motorcyclist’s distance or speed. This can result in the motorist pulling out in front of the biker and causing a head-on collision or T-bone accident. Take your time at intersections, come to a complete stop, yield the right of way, and look both ways, even if your light is green.
The protective equipment motorcyclists wear can determine the severity of injuries in the event of a crash. Georgia law makes wearing a helmet mandatory for motorcyclists in the state, but that doesn’t mean everyone complies. Do yourself a favor as a motorcyclist – wear a helmet. Head injuries are common in motorcycle accidents and can be fatal. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injuries by about 67%. Other equipment you can wear to prevent injuries includes riding boots, pants, a jacket, and gloves. Protective clothing can help you avoid painful road rash and traumatic tattooing.
Distracted driving takes lives. In the amount of time it takes for you to read or send a text message, a motorcyclist could cross the road or come to a stop in front of you. Dedicate 100% of your attention to the driving task when behind the wheel. Putting your phone down could prevent a serious or deadly motorcycle accident from happening this year. In Georgia, it is now illegal to use your phone while driving, per the Hands-Free Law. Do your part for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month by taking these tips seriously – and by spreading the knowledge.