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Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month promotes road sharing

Several motorists take to the highways in spring, but motorcyclists merge with traffic at a time when drivers of larger vehicles can be less compelled to notice them. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month, a designation that federal safety officials hope will prevent motorcycle accidents and draw attention to the increased presence of two-wheeled riders. Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration want to imprint the idea that drivers of every size and type of vehicle share the highways and streets.

Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see than other vehicles and their size creates a responsibility for riders to make sure they are seen. But car and truck drivers also have duties -- to be on the lookout for motorcycles and to realize that motorcyclists have the same right to occupy the roads as other drivers.

NHTSA statistics show that motorcycle riders are five times more vulnerable to accident injuries and 25 times more likely to be killed in a crash than occupants of passenger vehicles.

Car and truck drivers can sharpen their driving habits to accommodate motorcyclists. Consistent turn signal use sends a clear message of intentions to other drivers. Monitoring mirrors helps drivers avoid accidentally striking a rider or pulling into a lane already occupied by a motorcyclist.

Motorcyclists can minimize accident risks by staying visible in traffic, wearing protective gear and practicing defensive driving. Motorists in larger vehicles must respect and remain conscious of motorcyclists to ensure safe driving experiences for themselves and the drivers around them.

Spring is a signal for riders to hit the road and this year, their numbers are due to increase. Bike maker Harley-Davidson reported a big boost in sales during the first quarter of 2012, up 25 percent from the same time last year. One-third of last year's sales were to novice riders, another reason for car and truck drivers to take extra notice of motorcyclists and extra care while driving.

Source: ConsumerReports.org, "Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month reminds drivers, riders to share the road," Jeff Bartlett, May 1, 2012

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