« Go Back

‘SHARING THE ROAD’:  May Proclaimed Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

May 05, 2009 (LITTLE ROCK) – Motorcycle fatalities in Arkansas increased 300 percent from 1997 to 2007 and one out of every nine motor vehicle fatalities in 2007 involved motorcycle riders. Governor Mike Beebe’s Highway Safety representative and Director of the Arkansas State Police, Colonel Winford Phillips says the increase in motorcycle fatalities over the past decade represents one of our state’s greatest highway safety challenges. “While there has been success in reducing automobile deaths in Arkansas, we can’t say the same for motorcycle fatalities,” Colonel Phillips said. Across the country motorcycle fatalities now account for 13 percent of total road fatalities and have increased each year from a low of 2,116 in 1997 to 5,154 in 2007. During the same reporting period in Arkansas the number of deaths increased from 19 to 76. Governor Beebe in July of 2007 designated the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office as the state’s authority with regard to motorcycle safety issues. The designation resulted in the creation of the Arkansas Motorcycle Safety Advisory Committee (AMSAC). AMSAC announced today it is joining with other federal, state, local highway safety, law enforcement and motorcycle organizations in proclaiming May 2009 as “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.” All motorists are reminded to safely “Share the Road” with motorcycles and to be alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. “With warmer weather here, more motorcycles will be back on the roads,” said Lloyd Vanover, AMSAC chairman. “Drivers of all vehicles need to be extra alert”. Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on the road and often are not seen by drivers operating cars and trucks. Drivers should always check the “blind spots” unique to each vehicle to insure they know whether a motorcycle or any other type of vehicle may be hidden from a clear view. “It’s crucial that motorists always look twice for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections,” Vanover said. He said that motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle drivers in the event of a crash. Research shows that approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill a driver or passenger in vehicles. Chuck Lange, Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association executive director, offers several tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on the roadways: • Remember the motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle on the roadway. Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width – never try to share a lane. • Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections. • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcyclist is going to turn before you proceed. • Remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to other vehicles pose major hazards to motorcyclists. • Allow more following distance, three to four seconds, when following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver to stop in an emergency. Don’t tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop much more quickly than cars. Vanover said motorcyclist have responsibilities too, such as, following the rules of the road and being alert to other drivers. It is also recommended that motorcyclists wear DOT compliant helmets and protective gear. “Our message to all drivers is to make this the first year in recent years when motorcycle fatalities in Arkansas do not increase,” he said. “Help to share in the responsibility and do your part by safely ‘Sharing the Road’ with motorcycles.” AMSAC members are Lloyd Vanover, motorcycle safety coordinator; Richard Davis and Monty Pride, Arkansas State Police; Brian Phelps and Kenneth Augustine, motorcycle safety training community; Bridget White, Arkansas Highway Safety Office; Rodney Dunn and Alvernon Rogers, Blue Knights Law Enforcement Association; Phil Weaver, motorcycle dealers; Rodney Farley and Tom Wewers, State Motorcycle Association. For more information on Motorcycle Safety, contact the Highway Safety Office at 501-618-8133 or search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov.