Motorcycle Safety Tips
The Governor’s Highway Safety Administration reports that there were over 4,700 motorcycle accident fatalities in 2009, noting the first time in 12 years that the number of fatalities has declined. In Colorado, the number of deaths decreased as well, down over 10 percent from the 2008 high of 98.
A recent report by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) states that there are nearly 175,000 registered motorcycles in the state. With more and more motorcyclist on the road, it is important for riders and drivers of other vehicles alike to take notice of motorcycles to ensure that the number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities continue the downward trend.
Though experts recommend wearing proper protective gear while riding, including gloves, eye protection and a jacket, perhaps the best way to protect yourself is to wear a properly fitting helmet. In Colorado, the CDOT statistics indicated that nearly two-thirds of those killed in motorcycle accidents during 2009 were not wearing helmets. Nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) estimates that wearing a helmet can reduce motorcycle accident fatalities by up to 37 percent.
Though lack of head protection is a major factor in motorcycle-related deaths, the use of helmets by riders has been consistently on the rise. The NHTSA estimates that in 2009, 67 percent of riders were wearing a helmet, up from 48 percent in 2005.
The other major contributing factor in motorcycle fatalities is the use of alcohol. As with the operation of any motor vehicle, you should avoid using alcohol if you plan on riding. CDOT reports that 40 percent of all motorcycle accident deaths involved alcohol use by the operator last year, up 6 percent from 2008.
Increasing Awareness for Drivers of Cars and Other Vehicles
The insurance company Allstate has released a list of motorcycle safety tips for drivers of motor vehicles to keep in mind when sharing the road with motorcycles. The tips note that the main reason motorcyclists crash is because drivers of cars and other vehicles do not see them. Because motorcycles are smaller, they can easily disappear in blind spots and be closer in mirrors than they appear.
Giving motorcyclists enough room is also emphasized by Allstate. Bikers will often slow down by downshifting instead of using their brakes, meaning that drivers behind motorcycles may not see brakes lights as the rider slows down. Also, it is difficult for bikers to slow down or stop quickly on wet roads. Allowing more following distance in wet or slippery conditions can help save lives.
The company notes that 80 percent of motorcycle accidents will result in death or some form of injury since riders lack the protection of a car and its safety devices like airbags and seat belts. It is important for all riders and drivers to be more aware and safely share the road during the peak riding season.
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