Spring has arrived, and area residents are taking full advantage of it.
That means car and truck drivers will have to get used to sharing the road with motorcycles again.
During May, officials in Michigan and Wisconsin are reminding all drivers to be on alert for motorcycles. May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
More than 500,000 Wisconsin residents have motorcycle licenses or permits and more than 300,000 motorcycles are registered in the state, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Motorcycling also continues to grow in popularity across Michigan. Since 2007, the number of endorsed riders has jumped almost 50,000, to 553,000. More than 60,000 of those riders are women.
As their popularity increases, unfortunately, so do the number of traffic accidents.
On average for the last five years in Wisconsin, traffic crashes annually have killed nearly 100 motorcyclists and injured approximately 2,500.
In Michigan, 125 people were killed in motorcycle crashes in 2010, up from 103 deaths the year before. Some 2,664 motorcyclists were injured in 2010.
To help keep the riding experience safe, traffic safety experts offer the following safety tips:
- Keep the headlights on at all times to increase the chances of being seen by other drivers.
- Wear protective clothing, including a Department of Transportation approved crash helmet and protective eyewear.
- Practice defensive riding techniques to avoid or minimize the severity of a crash; don't expect the other motorist will see you.
- Watch for animals in your path, especially at night.
- When behind a car, motorcyclists should try to ride where the driver can see the motorcycle in their rear-view mirror. Riding in the center portion of the lane should put the motorcycle image in the middle of the rear-view mirror - where it is most likely to be seen.
- The most dangerous place for any rider is an intersection. That is where most motorcycle crashes take place. The most common cause of these crashes is that the car driver infringed on the motorcycle rider's right-of-way. The best way a motorcyclist can increase his or her chances of being seen as they approach an intersection is to ride with the lights on, and in the portion of the lane that gives the best view of oncoming traffic. As a motorcyclist enters the intersection, the rider should position the motorcycle to provide a space cushion all around that allows for evasive action. Remember, the key is to see as much as possible. This will usually make the motorcycle as visible as possible.
Other motorists should also be aware of motorcycles on the roadways.
Drivers can help reduce to crashes by paying close attention to the following:
- Watch for motorcycles. Most drivers involved in a crash say they never saw the motorcycle. Make sure your view of the road is unobstructed by removing items hanging from a rear-view mirror.
- Motorcycles are smaller than cars, making it difficult to accurately determine the speed of a motorcycle. Always allow adequate room when entering the roadway upon the approach of a motorcycle.
- Keep an eye out for motorcyclists on the road, and look twice for them at intersections before proceeding.
- Check specifically for approaching motorcycles when making a left turn. Failure to see them is the most common cause of crashes between motor vehicles and motorcycles.
- Be careful not to follow a motorcycle too closely. A motorcycle stops quicker than a car or truck. The rule of thumb is to keep at least 3 to 4 seconds of time between your vehicle and a motorcycle.