What a winter this has been for most of the country. Record snow falls and arctic temperatures that seemed to last forever have us all dreaming about replacing our snow suits with shorts and t-shirts and escaping outside to enjoy our favorite spring activities.
A sure sign of spring is the appearance of large numbers of motorcyclists on the road. There are over eight million registered motorcycles in the U.S. and when the snow melts, these riders ride! Between the months of April and October, the spike in cyclists on our nation’s highways and secondary roads is staggering. Concurrently, the number of motorcycle-related accidents rises proportionately. Federal studies reveal that the number of fatalities on motorcycles was over 30 times the number reported in cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute report that in 2013, the most recent year from which statistics are available, 4,381 motorcyclists lost their lives in crashes.
Roughly three-fourths of all motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another vehicle and the most common reason given by motorists is their failure to see and recognize motorcycles in traffic. It has also been statistically recorded that in two-thirds of these accidents, the vehicle driver violated the motorcyclist’s right-of-way. The most frequent locations of these collisions are intersections.
Because of a motorcycle’s narrow profile, it can easily be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot, or masked by objects or backgrounds outside the vehicle, such as bushes, fences, trees or bridges. Additionally, a motorcycle’s small size may make it look farther away than it really is and it’s often difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed.
Motorists and motorcyclists share the responsibility for safety on the road. Whether you’re driving a truck, car, motorcycle or even a bicycle, remember to keep an eye out for one another. As a truck driver, you know the importance of the basics; keep your eyes high and keep your eyes moving. Maintain your focus and pay attention to proper spacing. At intersections, make eye contact with other drivers before proceeding and always use turn signals. If you roll off the throttle, tap your brakes or ride them enough to engage the brake lights.
Remember: “Look twice and save a life.” When driving, look, signal, and then look again before making a lane change. Check your mirrors and give the other guy time to clear your blind spot if they’re in it. Change lanes gradually. And always keep in mind, that an object as small as a pencil in your line of vision can prevent you from seeing a motorcycle.
Finally, if you yourself enjoy the pleasure of taking to the open road on a motorcycle and you live in a state that doesn’t require you to wear a helmet, consider wearing one anyway. Data indicates that in almost 69 percent of all cases, a helmet prevented or reduced head injury sustained by the rider.
Let’s all take a little extra care so that everyone is able to get out and enjoy all the activities that spring has to offer!
What is your favorite spring hobby? Do you ride a motorcycle? Share your stories with us at www.facebook.com/ConwayTruckload.