This May, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month comes at a particularly crucial time. Traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels, families are planning for summer road trips, and interest in motorcycling — for commuting and recreation — is seeing strong growth. This means more drivers and riders will be out on the roads this summer.
Please remember to look out for one another — whether you are a car or truck driver, motorcycle or scooter rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian. We hope you will join us in spreading the word —#seemotorcycles — and in sharing our tips below.
5 Tips for Drivers
- Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles. Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car's blind spots, so check — then check again — before changing lanes or making a turn.
- Predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks. A motorcycle may look farther away than it is because of its small size, and it may 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 appears.
- Keep a safe distance. Motorcyclists often slow by rolling off the throttle or downshifting, thus not activating the brake light, so allow more following distance, about 3 to 4 seconds.
- Understand lane shifting. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
- See the person. 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.
5 Tips for Riders
- Be visible. Motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles, so wear bright clothing and a light-colored helmet. Always have your headlight on, day and night, and avoid riding in blind spots of cars and trucks. If possible, flash your brake light when slowing down and before stopping.
- But pretend you are invisible. If you assume others on the road can’t see you, and any car that can hit you will hit you, you will tend to ride in a hyper-aware mindset and learn to notice every detail in your surroundings. Take extra responsibility for your safety and ride defensively.
- Gear up every ride. Wear proper riding gear from head to toe. Full-face helmets provide the best protection, and jackets, pants, gloves, and boots that are made for riding will generally be made of abrasion-resistant material, include protective armor, and provide additional comfort.
- Use good street strategies. Constantly search the road for changing conditions and use the Search-Evaluate-Execute strategy (SEE) to assess and respond to hazards before you have to react to an emergency.
- Before you ride, check over your bike. Make a habit of doing a pre-ride check, which includes looking over your tires and wheels, checking fluids, cables, your bike’s chassis, lights and electronics, and the stands. Use the T-CLOCS inspection checklist to help you.
More tips are available at msf-usa.org and forcardrivers.com.