May is Motorcycle Awareness Month! Motorcycle riding season is here, and it's especially important that drivers exercise caution and share the road safely with these riders. Our Joplin motorcycle accident attorneys ask that all motorists be extra-cautious on our roadways, keeping an eye out for hazards, other vehicles and especially motorcycles. Also, importantly, we urge motorcyclists take the necessary precautions to increase their own safety.
"Motorcycle fatalities represent approximately 10 percent of all Missouri highway fatalities each year, yet motorcycles represent approximately 2.6 percent of all registered vehicles in Missouri," according to a press release from the Missouri Highway Patrol. "One of the main reasons motorcyclists are killed in crashes is because the motorcycle itself provides no protection in a crash."
Unfortunately, these small, two-wheel vehicles can also be easy to overlook. To avoid a crash, drivers of cars and trucks have to take the extra time to look twice before making a turn or switching lanes, simply to ensure a biker isn't traveling nearby. The majority of motorcyclists are law abiding drivers too, and they are entitled to the same roadway respect as any other motorist.
Drivers can also use the following safety practices to help avoid a collision with a motorcycle:
• Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
• Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
•Allow more following distance -- three or four seconds - when following a motorcycle so the motorcycle rider has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
To read more motorcycle safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), click here.