See & Be Seen: An important message part of motorcycle safety

Delaware Office of Highway Safety Officials say there have been 8 motorcycle fatalities on Delaware roads in 2016, and over the last decade, more than 175 motorcyclists have died in the First State.

While the number of fatalities is less than the same time last year, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, along with state and local law enforcement, is reminding motorists and motorcyclists alike to “See & Be Seen” when driving.

From August 12 to August 15, law enforcement across Delaware will be patrolling high crash roadways to make sure that both motorists and motorcyclists are riding and driving safely and sharing the road. Agencies participating in the enforcement include Dover PD, Georgetown PD, Milford PD, Millsboro PD, Seaford PD, and Delaware State Police.  

Officials say that warm weather means more motorcycles out on the road, and fatal crashes with motorcycles continue while helmet usage is on the decline.

“Wearing a helmet is an important way for a motorcyclist to stay safe, but we all play a part. It’s up to all motorists and motorcyclists to make our roads safer,” says Jana Simpler, Director of the Office of Highways Safety. “It’s especially important for motorists to understand motorcycle safety challenges such as size and visibility, and riding practices like downshifting and weaving to be able to anticipate and respond to motorcyclist behavior.”

Delaware OHS officials say that all drivers need to know how to anticipate and respond to motorcyclists to avoid fatal crashes. They remind drivers to look twice for motorcyclists before pulling out from an intersection or cross roads and remind motorcyclists that they need to obey the state’s motorcycle safety laws including having the proper motorcycle endorsement on their license.   

General tips from the Delaware OHS to drivers on how to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle are as follows:

  • 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 follow distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
  • Never drive distracted or impaired.

Delware OHS also say that motorcyclists must also take precautions to remain safe on the road, and they can increase their safety by following these steps:

  • 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.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, in 2014, 4,586 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a decrease of 2.3 percent from 2013, which totalled 4,692. Those deaths reportedly account for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year, despite motorcycle registrations representing only 3 percent of all vehicles in the United States in 2014.  Injured motorcyclists also apparently decreased from 93,000 in 2013 to 88,000 in 2014.

NHTSA estimates that 1,630 lives were saved in 2014 because of proper helmet usage, but another 715 lives could have been saved if helmets had been worn.

“By following basic safety rules, we can all help prevent crashes. We can all help prevent motorcyclist fatalities on our roads. Our message is for all drivers and riders: Share the responsibility of keeping our roads safe-always share the road,” says Community Relations Officer, Lisa Flowers.

For more information on the Delaware Office of Highway Safety and to stay up-to-date on news and announcements, follow OHS on Facebook as @ArriveAliveDE and on Twitter and Instagram as @DEHighwaySafe.

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