Monday, 15 July 2024

National Motorcycle Safety Month: Safety is a two-way street

LAKE COUNTY – May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in California, and the California Highway Patrol wants to raise awareness about the importance of drivers and motorcyclists sharing the road.

With warmer weather here, more motorcycles are back out on the road – and the drivers of passenger vehicles need to be alert.

CHP reminds all motorists to safely “Share the Road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. After a crash, the drivers of other vehicles involved often say they never saw the motorcyclist and were unable to respond in time.

“Sharing the road with many types of vehicles is necessary for safe highways,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “While drivers need to watch out for bikers, motorcyclists need to be defensive riders and watch their surroundings as well.”

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association reminded motorists that safety is a two-way street off the highway as well.

“Whether it be on the highway or on the streets, drivers need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when encountering motorcycles,” said Dyer. “Oftentimes, motorcycles are harder to see than cars and are more vulnerable when on the road. Motorcycle riders always need more time and room to avoid hazards and drivers should make every effort to give riders as much room on the road as possible.”

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles more Californians are sharing the roadways. “Among the more than 23 million licensed drivers in the state, there are roughly 1.1 million licensed riders,” said DMV Deputy Director of Licensing Operations Mimi Khan.

The CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System statistics show the number of motorcyclists killed in collisions statewide has increased more than 140 percent during the past 10 years.

Per vehicle mile traveled, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2006, motorcyclists were about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash. In 2006, motorcycle fatalities increased for the ninth straight year both nationally and in California. Since 1998, motorcycle fatalities in California have increased 145 percent, from 206 to 511; while motorcycle registrations have increased about 72 percent.

"With motorcycle rider deaths increasing at an alarming rate, everyone needs to take note," said California Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy.

Next week, the Office of Traffic Safety, the CHP and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are convening California's first-ever Motorcycle Safety Summit – May 21 through May 23 in Irvin – with representatives from motorcycle riders, law enforcement, industry and public agencies to address the rising number of motorcycle rider deaths.

With a motorcycle, safety accessories are limited to equipment like helmets, jackets, boots and gloves not much stands between the rider and serious injury in case of a collision.

Motorists need to remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to passenger vehicles pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Be aware that motorcyclists may need to change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings and grooved pavement.

Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. And don’t tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too, by following the rules of the roadway, being alert to other drivers, and always wearing Department of Transportation-compliant helmets and protective gear.

Officials caution that motorcyclists must always be properly licensed, as between 30 and 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities are not licensed.

In addition to safety equipment, education is crucial for new motorcyclists and riders who have been off the road for a length of time.

“Even as a veteran rider, I know it’s important to take a refresher course and sharpen your skills, especially if you haven’t ridden in a while,” said CHP Assistant Commissioner Ramona Prieto.

Last year, nearly 63,000 students attended training courses at one of the 114 California Motorcyclist Safety Program training sites throughout California. The California Motorcyclist Safety Program is California’s official motorcycle safety and training program, and is administered by the CHP.

To enroll in a CMSP course, call 1(877) RIDE-411 or visit their website at


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