With ideal weather conditions finally returning to much of the U.S., the number of motorcyclists hitting the roads and highways is going to start increasing dramatically. Unfortunately, this means that the number of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents across the nation will likely also increase.
In recognition of these twin realities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially named May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the theme of this year's campaign is, perhaps not surprisingly, "Share the Road."
While it's understandable why someone might wonder why it's necessary for the NHTSA to take such a drastic step, consider that in 2013 alone nearly 4,700 motorcyclists lost their lives in traffic accidents, and that these fatalities comprised 14 percent of all traffic deaths for the year despite motorcycle registrations making up only 3 percent of total vehicle registrations.
In keeping with the theme of sharing the road, the NHTSA is advising motorists to do the following over the coming months:
- Remember that motorcycles can be difficult to see and easy to misjudge in terms of distance owing to their smaller size.
- Always use a turn signal when changing lanes, making a turn or merging into traffic to give motorcyclists time to react.
- Leave enough distance when following a motorcyclist -- three to four seconds -- given that they may need to change speeds or lane position because of road hazards/obstructions.
- Put down smartphones and eliminate all distractions while behind the wheel.
- Recognize that motorcyclists have the same right to be on the road as any other licensed driver.
Here's hoping that we see a safe riding season here in Georgia in 2015. However, those who suffer serious personal injuries or lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by a reckless driver should always remember that they can seek justice for the harm they've been forced to endure.