Tips for drivers and passengers to stay safe

(WXYZ) – As the weather begins to warm up in Metro Detroit, you can expect to see more motorcycles on the streets.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and aims to educate people on how to be safe on and around motorcycles.

In 2020, 5,578 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents. That same year, people on motorcycles were 28 times more likely to die in an accident than people in other vehicles, according to the US Department of Transportation.

It’s been six years since Shelly Frontera was run over by a drunk driver while riding her motorcycle. Although she is blessed to be alive, she still lives with physical and emotional pain.

“I’m a third of the person I was,” Frontera said.

In August 2015, she was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle, going from westbound 26 Mile to southbound Gratiot. A drunk driver blew a red light and rammed them.

“When he started to go I looked up, green light then started my turn, remember the diversion and remember the headlights,” Frontera said.

She doesn’t remember anything until nine days later, when she woke up in hospital with injuries to her head, spine, right hand, hip and significant injuries to her the right leg.

To this day, she walks with a cane and a knee brace, and still feels pain.

“Especially when the weather is up and down like this, it’s my most painful time of year,” Frontera said.

She also suffers mentally.

“I’m a Marine, so I have this mentality of being able to conquer anything, and I don’t have that anymore,” she said.

James Thorburn of Allen Park Police said he had seen a number of crashes in his town and it was never the fault of the motorcyclist.

He has many tips to keep people safe. For riders, wear bright colors and protective gear, including a helmet.

“Always dress for the crash, obviously the weather, but you see people you know, we’ve all seen it people driving down the road with no shirt, no helmet, it’s not gonna be great if you crush,” he said.

Other suggestions from Frontera include making sure you have good insurance if you ride, and she reiterated the importance of wearing a helmet.

She was not wearing a helmet at the time of her accident, so she is very lucky to be alive.

Tips for Drivers

  1. Take extra time to look for motorcycles. Due to its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots, so check — then check again — before changing lanes or making a turn.
  2. Predicting that a motorcycle is closer than it looks. A motorcycle may seem further away than it is due to its small size, and it can be difficult to gauge the speed of a motorcycle. When checking for traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict that a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
  3. Keep a safe distance. Motorcyclists often slow down by letting off the throttle or downshifting, thus not activating the brake light, so allow for more following distance, around 3-4 seconds.
  4. Understand lane change. Motorcyclists often adjust their position in a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles and wind. Understand that riders adjust lane position for a purpose, not to show off or allow you to share the lane with them.
  5. See the person. When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle, see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor or relative.

5 tips for cyclists

  1. To be visible. Motorists often have difficulty seeing motorcycles, so wear light-colored clothing and a light-colored helmet. Always have your headlights on, day and night, and avoid driving into the blind spots of cars and trucks. If possible, flash your brake light when slowing down and before stopping.
  2. But pretend to be invisible. If you assume that others on the road can’t see you, and that any car that may hit you will hit you, you’ll tend to ride in a hyper-aware state of mind and learn to notice every detail of your surroundings. Take extra responsibility for your safety and ride defensively.
  3. Equip yourself for each outing. Wear proper riding gear from head to toe. Full-face helmets offer the best protection, and jackets, pants, gloves, and boots designed for riding will generally be made of abrasion-resistant material, include protective armor, and provide additional comfort.
  4. Use good street strategies. Constantly scan the road for changing conditions and use the Seek-Assess-Execute (SEE) strategy to assess and respond to hazards before you need to respond to an emergency.
  5. Before riding, check your bike. Make a habit of doing a pre-ride checkup, which includes examining your tires and wheels, checking your bike’s fluids, cables, chassis, lights and electronics, and brackets. Use the T-CLOCS inspection checklist to help you.

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