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Thomas Greer
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Government Agencies Looking to Rev Up Motorcycle Awareness

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Across the Nation, warmer spring weather always seems to bring two-wheel travelers out en masse—and, unfortunately, it usually means an increase in motorcycle accidents on our roadways. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, fatalities of motorcycle riders has risen an average of 10 percent per year over the last 20 years. Additionally, a Governors Highway Safety Association report stated that 2015 marked only the third time in history that more than 5,000 motorcyclists died in a given year—a number that many feel was contributed to by fewer helmet laws or riding while impaired.

Yet, statistics show that most motorcycle accidents are either a result of operator error or another vehicle colliding with the bike. Because motorcycles and their riders offer a fairly small visual profile when compared to cars, it doesn’t take much for a driver to miss seeing one—especially if they are driving distracted. Thus, the motto “Look twice, save a life,” which is also the name of a leading motorcycle safety campaign that strives to make drivers of automobiles more aware of motorcycles while sharing the road.

But not all motorcycle accidents are a case of not being seen, often it’s an issue of drivers not allowing motorcyclists enough room to maneuver. While smaller in size, motorcycles often need “more space” to safely execute actions such as braking or making turns. Plus, the smaller size of two-wheeled vehicles makes it hard for other drivers to judge distance and oncoming speed. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) points out that most motorcycle collisions occur at either an intersection or involve a lane change, often when the other vehicle violates the motorcyclist’s right-of-way—thus, these are times when driver’s should be most vigilant.

Of course, there is no time when a driver shouldn’t be on the lookout for two-wheel traffic. Just last month, a resident of the Memphis area was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of vehicular manslaughter after he abruptly pulled out from his private drive and into the path of a motorcycle rider and passenger with a pickup truck pulling a trailer. He was also charged with failure to yield and leaving the scene of a crash involving death—ultimately providing a tragic example of how altercations with motorcycles can happen unexpectedly at anytime, yet often with painfully predictable results.

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