Share the Road Responsibly with Motorcyclists
Did you know that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclist fatalities occurred 26 times more frequently than passenger car occupant fatalities in traffic crashes? The most recent statistics on motorcycle accidents in the U.S. report that 4,668 motorcyclists were killed in 2013 and there were an estimated 88,000 motorcyclists injured. Both numbers are down slightly from the previous year but there are still a staggering amount of motorcycle accidents nationwide.
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the NHTSA is reminding drivers to be extra alert of motorcyclists and to share the road. Motorcyclists have the same privileges and rights as any car, truck, bus or other motor vehicle driver on the roadway. It is all of our responsibility to be respectful of each other and follow the rules of the road. Here are some special situations and conditions provided by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles that all drivers should be aware of in order to safely share the road with motorcyclists:
- Motorcyclists have the right to use a complete traffic lane and two motorcycles may share a lane.
- Motorcycles are less visible because of their smaller size and may appear farther away than they really are.
- It is sometimes difficult for drivers to judge how fast a motorcycle is going so always be careful not to make sudden moves on the road and signal first.
- When approaching a motorcycle from behind, slow down sooner than you would for a car or other motor vehicle. Motorcycles are sometimes forced from their position on the road by strong winds or rough road surfaces so leave plenty of space.
- Turn signals are not self-canceling on most motorcycles, therefore before making a lane change or turn be sure to be aware of any nearby motorcyclist’s path. Watch for clues such as motorcyclist or passengers turning their heads to look behind or the motorcyclist beginning to lean or tilt their motorcycles.
- Always dim your headlights when approaching a motorcycle. The effect of high beams can be far more dangerous to them than to drivers of cars or trucks.
- Bad weather and slippery roads can create real problems for motorcyclists. Allow even more following distance in rainy weather or poor road conditions.
Motorcyclists: Stay Safe, Know the Laws
There is a mandatory helmet law in the state of Nevada, therefore all motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet that meets the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation and eye protection. This law also applies to mopeds with engines larger than 50 cc, more than 2 horsepower and capable of speeds over 30 mph.
Nevada’s motorcycle helmet law has been in place for decades despite the many efforts to repeal the law over the years. The proponents want to modify the law making helmets optional for motorcyclists over 21 years of age; an idea that garnered some support but the regulations never made it through the Nevada State House. Nevada’s neighboring states Utah and Arizona, have an optional helmet law for motorcyclists 18 years of age or older, causing mistakes and ticketing to occur when motorcyclists ride across the state lines unaware that the law changes when entering Nevada. Riding without a helmet could result in points and fines.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets saved 1,630 motorcyclists’ lives in 2013, and that 715 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. In States without universal helmet laws, 59 percent of motorcyclists killed in 2013 were not wearing helmets, as compared to 8 percent in States with universal helmet laws.
Other Motorcycle Safety Gear
Good motorcycle gear is as important as seat belts, windshields, even car doors. Motorcyclists should know that wearing proper, protective gear can save their lives. Nevada law requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet and eye protection, but there are many other important, and possibly life-saving, pieces of equipment for riders like gloves, jackets, pants, and boots. See this list of motorcycle safety gear for riders.
Distracted or Reckless Riding
Similar to distracted driving on the roads and the laws for drivers who do not focus on their driving, distracted motorcycle riding is even more dangerous. Especially on long recreational rides, it is easy to get distracted by the scenery or caught off guard by winding roads. Speed is also an issue with motorcycle riders. Higher speeds are associated with more serious injuries.
Here are a few helpful motorcycle safety tips from the Las Vegas Sun’s Exploring Nevada by Motorcycle article and the Nevada Rider Motorcycle Safety Program:
- Speed is a killer and only increases your chances of getting in a serious crash. Slow down and ride smart!
- Don’t be distracted when riding through scenic areas. Pull over and use the “scenic viewpoints” to enjoy the view.
- Winding roads, sharp turns and curves can be difficult to maneuver and dangerous and should only be handled by experienced riders.
- Always wear protective gear like boots, jackets, gloves, helmet and eye protection. It could save your life.
- It’s wise to carry a fully-charged cell phone on long rides, in the event of an emergency.
- Never ride impaired. Driving any motor vehicle under the influence of drugs is illegal.
The Nevada Rider Motorcycle Safety Program, created in conjunction with the Department of Public Safety, is chartered with ensuring motorcycle training is available to all residents of Nevada at a reasonable cost. The Program also monitors that all training providers in the State are conducting their training at high standards. The Program uses various media outlets to communicate the importance of safe riding to riders while encouraging other motorists to “share the road” with motorcyclists and creates comprehensive motorcycle programs that address motorcycle issues regarding legislation, safe roadways, licensing and law enforcement training.