By Tech. Sgt. Thom Moore
21st Space Wing Safety Office
May is motorcycle safety awareness month, and the safety office spends a lot of time, money and effort educating motorcyclists and motorists about motorcycle safety.
However, motorcyclist education is only a portion of motorcycle safety. The safety office has the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s “Intersection” training DVD for check out by units. The Intersection module is the MSF’s newest approach to enhancing motorist awareness of motorcycles. The program combines personal stories and character development with a dramatic new look at a crash scene that’s all too common.
The DVD contains a 13-minute video to appeal to adults and includes leader’s guide and participant’s guides. Motorists should also remember 10 things about motorcycles…
Ten Things All Car and Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles (Reprinted from www.ForCarDrivers.com with permission from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.)
1. Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcycle – they ignore it (usually unintentionally).
2. Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots (door/roof pillars) or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc). Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.
3. 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. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
4. Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance – about three or four seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
5. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles 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.
6. Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, and 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.
7. 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 dodge out of the way.
8. 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 can’t always stop “on a dime.”
9. 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.
10. If a driver crashes into a motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian and causes serious injury, the driver would likely never forgive themselves.