A total of 5,579 motorcycle drivers lost their lives in traffic crashes in 2020, according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation. In a resource providing safety tips to motorcyclists, who in 2020 were “28 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and were 4 times more likely to be injured,” the NHTSA offers a number of recommendations designed to help make the roads safer for them.
The NHTSA’s first recommendation to motorcyclists is to ensure that they have met their states licensing requirements, including any driver education courses. “Of the motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes in 2020,” the resource states, “36% were riding without valid motorcycle licenses,” a sign of the importance of education and licensure requirements. It also advises motorcyclists to practice riding their vehicles, ensuring that they’re comfortable operating it in “controlled” areas before venturing into traffic. Drivers are similarly advised to practice in controlled areas in a “variety of conditions,” including inclement weather.
Before setting out on the road, motorcyclists are advised to carefully check their motorcycle to ensure everything is working and in shape: fluid levels, tire pressure, tread depth, brake function, as well as lights and signals. “If you’re carrying cargo, you should secure and balance the load on the cycle; and adjust the suspension and tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight,” the NHTSA advises. Drivers should also ensure passengers are safely positioned, “firmly” hold on to the driver while the vehicle is in motion, and only dismount the vehicle when safe.
The NHTSA finally advises motorcyclists to follow common sense road rules and drive responsibly, obeying the law and any traffic signs or signals, and staying off the roads after consuming drugs, alcohol, and other substances that might affect their judgment. Noting that “The majority of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes generally are caused when other drivers simply didn’t see the motorcyclist,” the NHTSA cautions motorcycle drivers to be careful at intersections and use reflective materials to make their motorcycle more visible. More information on the ways motorcyclists can drive safely is available via the NHTSA.
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