Motorcycle safety highlighted as bikers take to the road

Raising awareness for motorcycle safety.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the Onondaga County Traffic Safety Advisory Board is launching the "Share the Road" campaign to remind drivers and motorcyclists to stay safe.

â??Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather gets warmer, which is why May is the perfect time for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month,â?? said Patricia Wortley, Chair of the Onondaga County Traffic Safety Advisory Board. â??Fatal crashes with motorcycles are on the rise, and helmet usage is on the decline. We all need to be more aware of motorcyclists in order to save lives.â??

The decline of helmet usage is clear, according to a new study. 66-percent of motorcyclists wore helmets in 2011, dropping to 60-percent in 2012. Motorcycle passengers saw a more dramatic drop, with 64-percent wearing helmets in 2011 to 46-percent in 2012. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1,617 lives were saved in 2011 thanks to helmets, but 701 were killed because they were not wearing a helmet.

The OCTSAB offers tips to drivers on how to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle:

-Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the rights of the road as

any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.

-Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.

-If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling

and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning

before proceeding.

-Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with

traffic, especially at intersections.

-Always allow more following distance â?? three to four seconds â?? when behind a

motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

-Never drive distracted or impaired.

And here are some tips the OCTSAB offers to motorcyclists to stay safe:

-Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.

-Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.

-Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.

-Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.

-Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.

-Never ride distracted or impaired.

For more information on motorcycle safety, click here.