HUDSON VALLEY — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding all motorists to Get Up to Speed on Motorcycles during May, which is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Motorists are reminded that, as the warm weather arrives, more motorcycles will return to the roadways.
While on the roads, motorists may encounter motorcyclist behaviors that seem out of sync with standard vehicle use. The NHTSA wants to make sure all motorists are aware of motorcycles and has designed this campaign to help motorists understand standard motorcycle driving behaviors and learn how to drive safely around motorcycles on the roadways. The campaign brings drivers up to speed on common motorcyclist riding behaviors and highlights simple things drivers can do to increase the safety of their two-wheeled friends who have very little protection in the event of a multi–vehicle crash.
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month coincides with May, as the month ushers in warmer weather, and motorcyclists begin to ride more frequently. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are significantly overrepresented in traffic crashes and fatalities each year. In fact, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 29 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash, and are 4 times more likely to be injured. It is essential that vehicle drivers pay complete attention on the roads. Even the smallest momentary lapse in a vehicle driver’s awareness can result in the death of an unseen motorcyclist.
In 2019, there were 5,014 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes, a decrease from 2018 (5,038). Motorcyclist deaths accounted for 14% of the total highway fatalities that year.
“Wearing a DOT-compliant helmet is imperative to the safety of our riders,” said Bill Peters, a Hudson Valley rider. “Just like motorists buckling their seat belts, using a DOT-compliant helmet can drastically increase survival rates in the event of a vehicle crash,” he added.
NHTSA data estimates that helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017 and that 749 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn their helmets.