Traffic Safety - April


MOTORCYCLE SAFETY & AWARENESS

 With the arrival of Spring, motorcycles will be out in great numbers.  There are over 116,00 motorcycles registered in Massachusetts. Motorists need to be aware that these vehicles are on the road, and realize that they have both unique abilities and an increased exposure to hazards.  Motorcyclists need to keep these characteristics in mind as well.  Statistics from the Registry of Motor Vehicles show that 255 motorcyclists died as a result of crashes in Massachusetts between 2002 and 2006.

 

A study into cause factors of motorcycle crashes conducted by the University of Southern California found “the failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents”. This is due in part to the dimensions of the motorcycle as compared to a car or truck.  The size of the motorcycle and its single headlight (most bikes display one headlight) can make it difficult for a motorist to estimate its speed.  When you do see a motorcycle approaching, it may be necessary to take a longer and/or second look to properly judge its speed.  When operating a motorcycle, you should try to maximize your visibility.  Bright and/or reflective clothing can be a big help.  Ensure that all your lights are working properly. There are aftermarket systems that modulate headlights and brake lights to make your machine more visible. Stay out of motorists’ blind spots. If you can’t see the driver in their mirror, then they can’t see you.  When approaching an intersection where a vehicle is waiting to pull out, try to make eye contact with the driver. Most importantly, an operator of a motorcycle must be aware of their surroundings at all times, and should always have an escape route.

 

Motorcycle operators should perform a safety check of their bike before riding. Check the tires, the signals, controls and fasteners.  Check out what you’re wearing as well. Sturdy shoes, durable clothes and gloves are advised. Helmets and eye protection are mandatory in Massachusetts. Wear a DOT approved helmet; it is the single most important piece of safety equipment available, and can save your life. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets saved over 1500 lives in 2005 and over 700 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had been wearing helmets.

 

Don’t operate a motorcycle when fatigued or angry. Above all, never, ever operate after consuming alcohol. Motorcycle Safety Foundation data shows that close to 40 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes had been drinking, and that about two thirds of those were below the legal limit. Any alcohol consumption degrades skills and judgment, and there is no room for error aboard a motorcycle.

 

Most motorcyclists find that using the left third of a travel line provides them the best view ahead and makes them most visible to other traffic. Maintain at least a two second following distance cushion. Clearly signal your intentions; sudden changes in direction without warning can take motorists by surprise and cause an accident. Check your mirrors when slowing and stopping. Consider taking a Rider Course such as the ones offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Even experienced riders can benefit from these courses.

 

 

The Malden Police Department disclaims all responsibility for accuracy and completeness, or errors and omissions of the information contained herein. Although the Department tries to assure the accuracy of all information presented, you should confirm all information before making any decisions based on it.

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Wednesday, 12 May 2010 05:58 PM