Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Motorcycles are small so it can be easy for one to slip into the blind spot of a vehicle.  It can also be difficult for some to judge a motorcycle’s speed or distance.  In regards to distance, motorcycles have nearly the same stopping distances as cars, but on slippery pavement it becomes difficult to stop quickly.  If you think it’s a bad idea to tailgate another vehicle, just think of how bad an idea it is to tailgate a motorcycle.

In 2014, the Overland Park Police Department investigated 52 crashes involving motorcycles, and of those, 37 were classified as injury accidents. There were also three traffic-related fatalities in 2014, with two of those deaths involving the driver of a motorcycle.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has some tips for motorists and motorcyclists.

For Motorists:

Look For Motorcyclists - Use your eyes and mirrors to see what's around and check the blind spots when you're changing lanes or turning at intersections. Look, and look again.

Focus on Driving - Hang up the phone, put down the MP3 player, settle the passengers, and drive.

Use Your Turn Signals - Signal your intentions for everyone's safety.

Give Two-Wheelers Some Room - Don't tailgate or pass too closely.

Take Your Time - Nothing is as important as the safety of your loved ones, yourself, and the others with whom you share the road

For Motorcyclists:

Be visible – They remind motorcyclists that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles so make sure your headlight works, use reflective strips or decals on your clothing, be aware of blind spots, and flash your break light when slowing or stopping.  They also suggest using your horn if a motorist doesn’t see you.

Dress for safety – Wear a quality helmet and eye protection, wearing bright colored clothing and a light colored helmet. Protect your body with leather or other thick protective clothing. Choose long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation specifically points out that the only thing between you and the road is your protective gear.

Apply effective mental strategies and know your bike and how to use it – Constantly scan and search the road for changing conditions and give yourself and others space and time to respond. Use lane positioning to be seen, signal in advance, don’t ride tired or impaired, get formal training, take refresher courses and practice. Lastly, know how to handle your bike in conditions such as wet or sandy roads, high winds and uneven surfaces.

For more motorcycle safety information visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's website at