May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month – share the ride!

One evening in April 2021, Eric Newell was out for a ride in Houston when his motorcycle was run over by a vehicle, breaking both legs, dislocating his hips and injuring his back and hands. He is just one of 2,318 Texas motorcyclists seriously injured in crashes last year.

Crashes like Newell’s are one of the reasons the Texas Department of Transportation observes National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, reminding riders to be extra vigilant around riders and give them more of space and consideration on state roads.

“On average, at least one motorcyclist dies every day in an accident on our streets and highways,” said TxDOT executive director Marc Williams. “Each of these runners is a husband or a wife, someone’s son or daughter, a brother or a sister or a mother or a father. As more motorcyclists hit the road to enjoy Texas’ beautiful scenery and warmer weather, it’s crucial that drivers stay alert and watch out for people riding motorcycles.

TxDOT’s annual “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign draws attention to the safety precautions motorists should take to protect motorcyclists. State officials report that 519 bikers died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, a 7% increase from the previous year. And even though motorcycles make up less than 2% of vehicles in Texas, they accounted for 12% of deaths in 2021.

TxDOT offers these vital driver safety tips to protect motorcyclists and prevent accidents:

  • Be extra careful when turning left. Always assume motorcycles are closer than they appear and avoid turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
  • Pay particular attention to intersections. A third of motorcycle deaths occur at road intersections.
  • Give your full attention to driving. Even a momentary distraction, such as answering a phone call or changing radio stations, can have deadly consequences.
  • Look twice when changing lanes. Check mirrors, check blind spots and always use turn signals.
  • Leave room for motorcyclists when passing them. Move to the passing lane and do not overload the full lane of the motorcyclist.
  • Stay back. If you are behind a motorcycle, always maintain a safe distance. When a motorcyclist downshifts instead of pressing the brake to slow down, it can surprise drivers because there are no brake lights to signal reduced speed.
  • To slow down. Obey posted speed limits and drive according to conditions.

TxDOT is bringing its “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign exhibit to cities across Texas this month. The campaign exhibit immerses participants in virtual reality to experience from a driver’s perspective how difficult it is to spot motorcyclists in high-risk traffic situations and experience calls close quarters and dangerous situations from a motorcyclist’s point of view.

The “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign is a key part of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages riders to make safer choices behind the wheel, such as wearing a seat belt. drive safely, limit speed, avoid distractions and never drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. November 7, 2000 was the last day without a death on Texas roads. #EndTheStreakTX is asking all Texans to pledge safe driving to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roads.

Contributed by Tim McAlavy

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