NEWS RELEASE

DRIVERS BE AWARE, MOTORCYCLES ARE OUT THERE

Electronic Highway Signs Remind Drivers and Motorcyclists to Share the Road

(September 17, 2009) - As fall arrives, motorcyclists are enjoying the cooler weather and heading out onto the streets in greater numbers – and drivers need to be aware and look twice for them.  More than half of drivers involved in motorcycle crashes are at fault in those crashes, on average. 

After dramatic increases between 2004 and 2007, motorcyclist fatalities declined overall in 2008.  Although the number of single-vehicle motorcycle fatalities decreased significantly last year, the number of motorcyclists killed in crashes with other motor vehicles increased slightly.

“The data tells us that we need to do more to educate drivers on sharing the road safely with motorcycles. Drivers have a responsibility in motorcyclists’ safety,” says Neil J. Pedersen, Maryland State Highway Administrator and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Drivers need to be alert and look twice for motorcycles when turning left, changing lanes, and pulling out from side streets.  Failing to yield the right of way to a motorcyclist is a life and death matter.”

Eight out of ten police-reported motorcycle crashes result in the injury of a motorcycle rider. Drivers who fail to yield the right of way and contribute to a crash that results in the death or serious bodily injury face a possible $1000 fine and up to 180-day license suspension.

In 2008, a total of 84 people were killed in motorcycle crashes, down from 96 in 2006. Fatalities in motorcycle-only crashes in which another vehicle was not involved decreased by nearly half, from 41 in 2007 to 26 in 2008. At the same time, fatalities in motorcycle crashes involving another motor vehicle increased from 55 in 2007 to 57 in 2008.

Thousands of motorcyclists will be taking to Maryland’s highways this weekend to participate in DelMarVa Bike Week, Maryland’s largest motorcycle event. Tens of thousands of motorcyclists are expected to visit Maryland’s Eastern Shore to participate in the event’s activities.

SHA and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Motorcycle Safety Program have teamed up to provide tips to motorists on how to share the road with motorcycles as a part of the Choose Safety for Life traffic safety campaign:

Driving around motorcyclists Drivers tend to look for other cars, not motorcycles. More than half of car-motorcycle crashes are caused by drivers, not motorcyclists. It is difficult to estimate a motorcycle’s speed and because motorcycles are small, they are sometimes hard to see.

Advice to drivers
• Respect the motorcyclist. Motorcycles are vehicles with the same privileges as any vehicle on the roadway. Give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel.
• Be on the look out for motorcycles – and look twice before turning or pulling out.
• Give motorcyclists plenty of space. Traffic, weather and road conditions require motorcyclists to react and maneuver differently than the vehicle driver.
• Be courteous. Being courteous, non-aggressive & cooperative can go a long way in reducing crashes.
For more information and materials on traffic safety, including sharing the road with motorcycles, visit choosesafetyforlife.com and look for Share the Road. The education campaign also xtends to cyclists, particularly with respect to guiding motorcyclists to seek proper training.  The Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) offers both beginner and advanced training; more information is available at www.mva.maryland.gov.
Advice to motorcyclists
• Ride so you are seen. Use lane positioning to be seen. Ride with your headlight on and consider using a modulating headlight.
• Give yourself space and time to react. Allow space for emergency braking. Make lane moves gradually.
• Wear the proper gear. The proper equipment, including a motorcycle helmet, will protect you in the event of a crash, and reflective material will enhance your visibility to other motorists.
• Signal your intentions. Signal before changing lanes. Avoid weaving between lanes. Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.
• Be courteous and respect other motorists - Ride responsibly. Remember, how you ride can affect drivers' attitude toward all motorcyclists.

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