Watch out for bikers: Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Motorcycle safety awareness applies to everyone on the road, not just the motorcyclist.
By official gubernatorial proclamation, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Florida. And, the “safety awareness” applies to everyone on the road, not just the motorcyclist. According to preliminary data from the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 426 motorcyclists were killed last year, due mainly to driver inattention. The inattentiveness is attributed to both the person on the bike and drivers of automobiles.
Motorcyclists are well aware of driving defensively, and the most cautious never let their guard down. They wear bright clothing not to show off but to show up! Check out the poster titled Ride Proud. Dress Loud. It is part of a conspicuity campaign started in 2008, based on data showing that while motorcyclists comprised just over 5 percent of the population, they represented over 16 percent of all traffic fatalities. So, smart bikers dress to be seen. And yet…….
There are many accidents in which automobile drivers pull out in front of motorcyclists because they did not see them. Motorcyclists are unseen because car drivers look for another car and fail to fully engage the brain to see the full scene before them. I personally witnessed such a thing, when a car driver attempted a left turn and pulled into the street just as a motorcyclist approached, causing the biker to do a flip over the car’s hood. He was wearing a helmet, thankfully.
Helmet laws for motorcyclists differ among the states. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia require helmets for all motorcyclists. In Florida, only those 20 and younger are required to have a helmet. Those over age 21 can ride a motorcycle without protective headgear as long as they have at least $10,000 in appropriate health insurance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has information on helmet use and notes a federal government estimate that per mile traveled, the number of deaths on motorcycles in 2007 was about 37 times the number in cars.
There may be no better place to ride than the Sunshine State, providing motorcyclists plan ahead to dodge the nearly every day summer rainstorms. More than one million Florida drivers have the motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. A motorcycle law passed in 2008 requires training before getting a motorcycle endorsement for a driver’s license, so first timers and new Floridians sit through 15 hours of instruction and training. But long-time riders may have never received such training. Keep that in mind, and stay alert – no matter what you drive.