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Motorcycle Awareness Month: Share the Road

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. Each year, the NHTSA runs campaigns to help raise the public’s awareness about dangers on the highways, such as drunk driving and distracted driving. This month it announces its latest campaign – Motorcycle Awareness Month.

Citing the fact that motorcyclist fatalities increased nationwide in 2010 to 4,502, accounting for 14 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year, and that the increase is part of a 13-year trend, the NHTSA has launched the campaign with a goal to change the driving habits of motorists and motorcyclists alike to help decrease the numbers of motorcyclists killed and injured in crashes. The safety campaign is aimed at getting motorists and motorcyclists to “share the road” with each other.

Pennsylvania has nearly 900,000 registered motorcyclists, and according to Just Drive PA, that number continues to rise. In 2010, there were 4,018 crashes and 223 motorcycle fatalities in the state. Over half of the motorcycle deaths involved alcohol.

Although Pennsylvania law does not require motorcycle riders over the age of 21 who have been cycling for more than two years to wear a helmet, the NHTSA estimates that helmet usage is 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists and 41% for the passengers. As of 2009, the NHTSA estimates that 67% of motorcyclists wear safety helmets.

Pennsylvania also runs a motorcycle awareness campaign, “Live Free. Ride Alive.” The campaign notes that while many motorcyclists ride for the freedom it gives them, educating riders about the rules of the road and safety tips is critical for allowing them to stay alive when riding Pennsylvania highways.

The campaign’s website contains important safety messages relating to getting properly licensed, reducing aggressive driving behaviors, avoiding drinking and riding and encouraging the use of wearing all protective riding gear. The PA campaign also asks riders to take it easy on the roads and in the bars. A pledge is available for riders to sign to commit to being one less statistic by driving sober.

Motorcyclists should do their part of staying safe on Pennsylvania highways. In addition to wearing a helmet, motorcyclists should obey all traffic rules, be alert to other drivers and never ride while impaired or distracted.

Motorists are urged by Just Drive PA to follow these safety tips when sharing the road with motorcycles:

  • Look out for motorcyclists – be aware that motorcycles are small and may be difficult to see. Check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes and at intersections. Large vehicles can also block a motorcycle from a motorist’s view and a motorcycle can suddenly appear out of nowhere.
  • Allow more following distance – leave at least four seconds when following a motorcycle.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Respect a motorcycle as a full-size vehicle with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway. Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width as the motorcyclist needs the room to maneuver safely in all types of road conditions.

Our Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorneys strongly encourage motorcyclists to wear a helmet when traveling Pennsylvania highways. In addition, we ask all motorists to become familiar with the material offered by the NHTSA and Just Drive PA for safely sharing the road with motorcyclists. Motorcyclists have the same rights to the highway as all other motorists – please do your part to keep them safe.

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