Share the road with motorcyclists

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May is Motorcyle Awareness Month, and as the weather gets warmer, we will start to see more and more two-wheeled vehicles speeding down our roadways to the beach and other destinations.

We join the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) in urging everyone to share the road together, in order to help prevent motorcycle crashes, injuries and deaths.

“Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather warms, which is why May is the perfect month to devote to motorcycle safety awareness,” said Col. John E. Richardson, director of the ALEA’s Alabama Department of Public Safety. “Fatal crashes with motorcycles is on the rise, and helmet use is on the decline, particularly when it comes to using helmets that meet the Department of Transportation’s safety standards. We all must be more aware of motorcylists to save lives.”

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Richardson offered the following tips on preventing fatal crashes with motorcycles:

• Allow a motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times. (Although a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator has all the rights of the road).

• Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic — both motorists and motorcyclists.

• If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful. Motorcycle signals often are non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure the motorcyclist is turning before proceeding.

• Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.

• Always allow more follow distance — three to four seconds — when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

• Never drive while distracted or impaired.

• Motorcyclists should use a DOT-certified helmet and other protective gear, and wear brightly colored clothing and reflective tape to increase visibility — especially at night.