County proclaims May 'Motorcycle Safety Month'

May 11, 2012

Snohomish County is joining federal, state and local highway safety offices and motorcycle organizations in proclaiming May as “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.”

Motorists are reminded to safely “share the road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert to keep motorcyclists safe.  During the next two weekends, law enforcement will be looking for impaired motorists, including those on motorcycles, as part of the ongoing Target Zero grant-funded emphasis patrols.

“As the weather improves, more and more motorcyclists are hitting the roads,” said Tracy McMillan, Snohomish County’s DUI & Target Zero Manager. “Drivers of all vehicles need to be extra attentive. Motorists should perform visual checks before they enter or exit a lane of traffic and at intersections.”

A motorcyclist is more vulnerable than a passenger-vehicle occupant in the event of a crash. Statistics show that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 39 times more likely than passenger-car occupants to die in traffic crashes.

“Motorcyclists have responsibilities too,” said Sgt. Wayne Davis of the Lynnwood Police Department and president of the North American Motor Officers Association. “They should obey traffic rules, be alert to other drivers, never ride while impaired or distracted, and always wear a DOT-approved helmet and other protective gear.”

Tips for drivers to keep motorcyclists safe:

Motorcycles have the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle.
Always allow a motorcyclist the full width of a lane – never try to share a lane.
Check mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before entering or exiting a lane of traffic or at intersections.
Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a mo­torcycle – motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
Allow more following distance – three or four sec­onds – when behind a motorcyclist so they have enough time to maneuver or stop in an emer­gency.
Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
Never drive while under the influence or while distracted.

Motorcyclists can increase their safety by:

Avoiding riding in poor weather conditions, and being aware of sand and gravel on the roadway that can affect traction;
Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet;
Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it;
Combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves;
Using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity;
Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers; and
Never driving while impaired.

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