motorcycle safety

Motorcycle Safety for Riders and Drivers

During the 1970s, I was in high school and I had a few friends that rode motorcycles to school.

It seemed that the guys who rode motorcycles carried themselves with a bit of swagger. Perhaps that was because they had transportation at 15. My brother and I had mini bikes to ride at my parents’ farm, but I wanted to get a motorcycle to ride on the streets.

My Dad would not allow it.

He was a personal injury attorney who had seen his share of motorcycle cases and was well aware of the dangers motorcyclists have sharing the road with automobiles.

I was allowed to get a dirt bike and spent many hours riding and racing with safety always a priority. I wore helmet, chest and mouth protector, gloves, motocross boots and leather pants. My greatest threat was the dirt. My biggest fear was crashing and ending up with strawberries (abrasions) or at worst a broken bone.

You are 27 times more likely
to die in a motorcycle accident
and 5 times more likely
to be injured while
riding a motorcycle. – NHTSA

Motorcycle riders who choose to ride on the streets and share the road with other drivers have considerably more dangers. They are challenged not only by automobile drivers who don’t see or actively look for them, but also road hazards such as potholes or road construction.

The likelihood of being injured or dying riding a motorcycle is greater than driving a car. According to NTSA, you are 37 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident and 9 times more likely to be injured while riding a motorcycle than driving a car.



motorcycle safety awareness month 2019The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared May to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

With the warmer temperatures there are more people riding their motorcycles on the roadway. On weekends, there are a lot of folks who ride and take road trips in groups with other motorcyclists.

There are also people who may have purchased their first motorcycle and may be inexperienced at riding a motorcycle on the roadway.

All of which makes this an excellent time to talk to both motorcyclists and drivers of four-wheel vehicles about keeping the roads safer for motorcyclists.





    Ride with other riders that you know and trust.

Make sure driver’s and pedestrians see you even from a distance. During the day, ride with your headlight on bright. Wear bright clothing and high visibility gear.

    Never ride under the influence or tired.

NCSA reported that 33% of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2016, were speeding.

Scan your surrounding while riding. Look from the road to your instruments, to mirrors, blind spots, and to the left and rear of the motorcycle.

Watch other driver’s heads and mirrors: Watching the head movements of drivers through their window or mirrors is a good way to anticipate a sudden move.

Don’t TRUST Mirrors: When changing lanes, do not totally trust your side mirrors. Always look over your shoulder.

    KNOW YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE: In the event of an emergency, know where to ride if the worst thing happens.

    BE READY ON THE BRAKE: Often a rider must react quickly in traffic. Always keep a finger or two on the brake lever and the right toe close to the rear brake pedal.

    DOWN SHIFT FOR POWER: When in traffic, ride in the lower gears. There is more power for accelerating out of danger.


Not all driving situations are equally dangerous. Make yourself a safer motorcyclists by knowing the most dangerous situations and working to avoid them.

Vehicle turning left in front of motorcycles cause a lot of crashes. When approaching an oncoming car that is stopped and about to to turn left, be ready. Your brights should be on during the day. watch the car’s wheels or the driver’s hands on the steering wheel.

If you see movement, be ready to brake, swerve, or accelerate in a safe defensive manner.

Never get between a vehicle and an off ramp. Drivers who decide to exit at at the last minute kill plenty of riders.





A big part of this month’s Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is to better inform drivers to make them less of a threat toward motorcyclists. With that in mind, the NHTSA has prepared the website Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles which contains a lot of useful information.

Since your brain is programmed to look for other cars, you may not notice a motorcycle. Actively look for motorcyclists. Being smaller, you may not notice them with a quick glance, but by lingering for a half second or so, you’ll be more likely to see the motorcycle’s movement.

Give motorcycles a FOUR SECOND following cushion. Since motorcycles weight a great deal less than cars, they can stop more quickly. There needs to be plenty of room if the motorcyclist quickly reduces speed or brakes.

A motorcycle is smaller and more difficult to spot when merging or changing lanes. And don’t trust your mirrors alone.. Look over your shoulder to check for a motorcycles in your blind spot.

Motorcycles do not have self canceling turn signals. A rider may have left the signal on, but to be on the safe side, assume the rider is about to change lanes or turn.

Always signal your intention when changing lanes and passing a motorcycle. Give them plenty of room. Allow at least four car lengths before you move into the lane in front of them.

At night give a motorcycle extra following distance. Do not use high beam headlights on an approaching motorcycle.

Use extreme caution in intersections. Many accidents between vehicles and motorcycles happen at intersections.

When making a left turn, wait for the motorcycle to pass, then turn behind the passing motorcycle. Since motorcycles are smaller in your field of vision, they appear to be going slower when they may be traveling faster. Vehicles make the mistake in believing there is enough room turn in front of an approaching motorcycle. WAIT! Allow the motorcycle to pass, then turn behind them.




On the roads, we have to work to keep ourselves and each other safe.

Motorcyclists have a responsibility to ride safely, obey the traffic laws, and ride so they minimize danger and annoyance to everyone else on the road. And drivers have the same responsibilty to  other drivers, including motorcyclists.

Over 1/2 of all
fatal motorcycle crashes
involve another vehicle.

Most of the time,
the motorist
– not the motorcyclist –
is at fault.

As a driver, your car can be many things: a way to get where you’re going, a status symbol, a huge investment, (or a storage shed). But it’s important to remember that your car can also be a weapon.

Every year drivers and their vehicles do a lot of unintentional damage, and when going up against a motorcyclist, they picking on someone with very little protection.

With May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, spend time considering the risks motorcyclists take on a daily basis sharing the road with other vehicles. Be extra vigilant looking for motorcycle riders. If you are a motorcyclist, protect yourself and wear a helmet. Even if you rode a motorcycle before, take a motorcycle safety driving course and get properly licensed.

Motorcyclists and other drivers should share the road with respect and safety.

Leave a Comment