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Motorists asked to look twice, share road with motorcycles

Even motorcyclists who have not yet ventured out in 2020 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and far northeastern Wisconsin likely will not be able to resist the sun and mid-70s temperatures expected over the next few days.

Which is one reason why May is ideal as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month — even in the far north, the weather in late May can be near-perfect for getting motorcycles out of storage and on the road.

With that in mind, traffic safety officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation ask that all motor vehicle operators share the road, be alert and help keep everyone safe.

About 550,000 Wisconsin residents have a motorcycle license.

“Because of their smaller profile, it’s easy to misjudge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle,” said David Pabst, director of WisDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety. “That’s why we ask car and truck drivers to look twice at motorcycles before pulling out from a stop sign, turning left at an intersection or changing lanes.”

Wisconsin in 2019 had 1,799 motorcycle crashes in which 1,532 motorcyclists were injured and 81 were killed.

Roadway safety requires that everyone do their part —

— Motorists driving a car or truck should watch carefully for motorcycles before pulling out from a stop sign, turning left or changing lanes;

— Motorcyclists should wear proper gear all the time, including visible and protective equipment;

— Motorcyclists should anticipate potential problems — such as gravel or other debris on roadways — by focusing on the road ahead;

— Get properly licensed and consider taking a motorcycle safety course.

Even experienced motorcyclists can benefit from a refresher course on safety. As a group, the motorcycling community is aging, with the average age of those involved in a fatal crash increased from 30 years old in 1992 to 45 in 2019.

“Safe motorcycling requires unique physical skills and mental concentration,” Pabst said. “One trend we see is middle-aged people who drove a motorcycle many years ago, then resume riding on a cycle that’s larger and more powerful.”

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