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Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

OAKHURST–More motorcyclists will be on the roads as spring weather welcomes the riding season, and this May, during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, all motorists are urged to take an extra look — double check your blind spots — before turning or changing lanes, because that extra second could save a life. Here are some tips for sharing our roads with motorcycles:

Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road. This can cause some drivers to not “recognize” a motorcycle – they ignore it (usually unintentionally).

Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots (door/roof pillars). Objects or backgrounds can also mask it outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc.) Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.

Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. Beware of motorcycles when turning at intersections or into (or out of) driveways. Predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.

Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance – 3 or 4 seconds. At intersections, expect a motorcyclist to slow down without visual warning.

Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, vehicles that are passing, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off, or to allow you to share the lane with them.

Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. Make sure a motorcycle’s signal is for real.

Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to maneuver out of the way.

Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because it may abruptly slow or stop to avoid a hazard.

When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle – see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor, or relative.

Lane splitting in a safe and prudent manner is not illegal in the state of California.

Portions of the above copy was provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation: www.msf-usa.org

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