Summer Safety: Share the Road

Summer is an ideal time to remind motorists and motorcyclists alike to “share the road” conscientiously and courteously to help prevent motorcycle crashes, which remain one of the most prevalent causes of death and injury on American roads.

According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle fatalities showed a continued increase to 4,612 in 2011. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 14 percent of total highway deaths for the year, despite motorcycle registrations representing only about 3 percent of all vehicles in the U.S.

NHTSA offered the following tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on our roadways.

  • Remember, a motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle. The person under that helmet could be a mother, brother, doctor or friend.
  • Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width; never try to share a lane.
  • Perform a regular visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and 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 motorcycle to give the motorcyclist time to maneuver around obstacles in the roadway, or stop in an emer­gency.
  • Always stay concentrated on the road when you’re behind the wheel.

Motorcyclists can increase their safety by:

  • Wearing a DOT-compliant helmet.
  • Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it.
  • Signaling intentions by combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to them.
  • Wearing brightly colored protective gear, and using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity.
  • Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers.
  • Never riding while impaired.

Both driving and riding conscientiously and safely will diminish the number of motorcycle accidents. In the unfortunate incident when an accident does occur, the Elvis Presley Trauma Center at Regional Medical Center is a patient's lifeline. Serving as the only Level 1 trauma Center within 150-miles of Memphis, trauma specialists are there 24/7.