AAA and Motorcycle Safety Foundation: New Pandemic-Related Increase in Novice Motorcycle Riders Poses More Risks on the Roads
Motorcycle and scooter sales were up more than 11% last year, and many motorcycle training facilities across the country coached more riders in 2020 than in 2019, even with capacity restrictions in place. The year-to-date demand for training in 2021 is far exceeding the demand for the same period in 2020, with some training providers experiencing decades-high demand levels, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. This means more new and returning riders will be on the road.
This May, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month comes at a particularly crucial time, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels, families are planning for summer road trips, and interest in motorcycling is seeing strong growth as a socially distanced means of transportation and recreation.
“We are all one community on the road, and we need to look out for one another,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “During the pandemic, many of us drove far less than in a typical year, and as we return to the road, our driving skills may be a little rusty. AAA encourages everyone on the road to keep their speeds down, cut out distractions, use their signals early and often, and double- even triple-check for motorcyclists when changing lanes.”
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 474 motorcycle fatalities in 2019. The California Highway Patrol reports that even though motorcycles account for just three percent of all registered vehicles in the Golden State, motorcycle fatalities represent 15.1 percent of all highway fatalities.
“Safety is important every day we ride, and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a great time to emphasize our safety messages to drivers and riders alike,” said Erik Pritchard, president and CEO of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. “As we look forward to peak riding season, we welcome the opportunity to kick off a summer of safety in May. And remember, for those looking to get into riding, your best first ride is with a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, on the street or on the dirt.”
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers these top five tips to 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.
And top five 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 and provide additional comfort and protection around joints and other areas.
- 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.
- Motorcycle vs vehicle: AAA