Hamilton, NJ – Warm weather lends for open road riding of motorcycles, which can be fun, but without the proper riding equipment or training, it can be dangerous. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 4868 motorcyclists lost their lives on America’s roads in 2015.  And motorcycle deaths account for approximately 14-15% of traffic deaths nationwide. Since May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, AAA reminds everyone to take precautions when driving around motorcycles and to Share the Road.

In New Jersey, data for 2014 indicates that there were 62 deaths associated with motorcycle crashes and in 2015 that number is lower at 50.  Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle drivers in the event of a crash.  According to National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), research shows that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes.

Lack of helmet use, alcohol involvement, speeding, and/or lack of proper license were among the contributing factors associated with the motorcycle deaths.

“Unfortunately, motorcycle fatalities are prevalent and need to be addressed, which is the purpose behind the designation of May as “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month” as motorists are reminded to safely “Share the Road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe,” says Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Motorcyclists are also reminded of their responsibilities to keep themselves as safe as possible by following the rules of the road, be alert to other drivers, never drive while impaired or distracted, wear protective gear, and always wear a helmet,” she advised.    

“While biker fatalities account for about 15 percent of total accidents, that number is still too many,” says Noble. Motorists as well as motorcyclists, must do their part to ensure that the number of deaths decline until we hit zero in New Jersey and nationwide.”

Motorcyclists and Motorists – AAA Mid-Atlantic Tips for Sharing the Road

Tips for Motorists

  • Share the road.  A motorcycle has the same privileges as any other vehicle on the road.  Be courteous and give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel.
  • Look out. Look for motorcyclists on the highway, especially at intersections when a cyclist may be making a turn or changing lanes.  Clearly signal your intentions.
  • Anticipate a motorcyclist’s maneuvers.  Obstructions (debris, potholes, etc.) that you may ignore or not notice can be deadly for a motorcyclist.  Anticipate their possible evasive actions.
  • Allow plenty of space.  Do not follow a motorcycle too closely.  Allow enough room for the motorcyclist to take evasive actions.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

  • Make yourself visible.  Choose protective gear that provides visibility and protection.  This includes wearing bright colors.  If riding at night, wear clothing with reflective materials.
  • Allow space.  Position your bike in the lane so that you can be seen.  Allow additional space for emergency braking and room to maneuver.  Avoid riding in a motorist’s blind spot.  Make lane changes gradually and use appropriate signaling.
  • Never share a lane beside a car.  A driver may be unaware of your presence.  Most drivers are looking for larger vehicles, not motorcycles.
  • Clearly signal your intentions. Use turn signals before changing lanes and never weave between lanes.
  • Wear protective gear. 
  • Helmet - Always wear a U.S. DOT-approved helmet.  In New Jersey it’s the law.
  • Eye protection - Visibility is key to riding safely.  Many motorcycles do not have windshields.  Riders should protect their eyes with goggles that can shield the face from wind and debris, both of which can cause tearing and, blurred vision.
  • Body Protection - Jackets with long sleeves and well-fitting abrasion resistant pants.
  • Gloves - Durable gloves should be a non-slip type to permit a firm grip on controls.
  • Footwear - Proper over-the-ankles footwear should be worn to help prevent injuries.
  • Complete a motorcycle rider education and training course.  The overwhelming majority of motorcyclists have had no formal training.  Get professional training on how to be a defensive driving motorcyclist.