One out of every nine U.S. road fatalities accounted for last year involved motorcycle riders. The steady increase in fatalities during the past decade represents one of our nation's greatest highway safety challenges. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

One out of every nine U.S. road fatalities accounted for last year involved motorcycle riders. The steady increase in fatalities during the past decade represents one of our nation's greatest highway safety challenges. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2008, motor vehicle crash-related deaths involving cars and light trucks reached an all-time low in the United States. At the same time, however, motorcyclist deaths reached an all-time high, more than doubling between 1999 and 2008. So while there has been success in reducing automobile deaths, this progress is being negated by the rise in motorcycle fatalities.

All motorists are reminded to safely share the road with motorcycles and to be extra-alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on the road, so everyone needs to look for motorcycles and take extra care to share the road.

Because of their smaller size, motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle's blind spot. Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than passenger vehicle drivers in the event of a crash.

Research shows about 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider, while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill a driver or passenger in their vehicles.

Here are some tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on our roadways:

Remember the motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle on the roadwayAlways allow a motorcyclist the full lane width. Never try to share a laneAlways make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersectionsAlways signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with trafficDon't be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceedRemember that road conditions, which are minor annoyances to other vehicles, pose major hazards to motorcyclistsAllow more following distance — three or four seconds — when following a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.And don't tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too, by following the rules of the road, being alert to other drivers, and always wearing DOT-compliant helmets and protective gear.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations' message to all drivers is: make this the first year in recent years when motorcycle fatalities do not increase. Help to share in the responsibility and do your part by safely sharing the road with motorcycles.

Contact the McPherson County Extension Office at 620-241-1523, or check our website, www.ksre.ksu.edu