Motorcycle Awareness

During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May - and during the rest of the year - drivers of all other vehicles and all road users are reminded to safely "share the road" with motorcyclists, and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe.

  • Road users should never drive, bike, or walk while distracted.  Doing so can result in tragic consequences for all on the road, including motorcyclists.
  • A motorcyclist has the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as any other motorist on the roadway.
  • Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Though it may seem as if there is enough room in a single lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, looks can be deceiving. Do not share the lane: a motorcyclist needs room to maneuver safely.  
  • Because motorcycles are smaller than most vehicles, they can be difficult to see. Their size can also cause other drivers to misjudge their speed and distance.
  • Size also counts against motorcycles when it comes to blind spots. Motorcyclists can be easily hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Always look for motorcycles by checking your mirrors and blind spots before switching to another lane of traffic.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate your movement and find a safe lane position.
  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle—it may not be self-canceling and the motorcyclist may have forgotten to turn it off. Wait to be sure the rider is going to turn before you proceed.
  • Allow more follow distance – three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle; this gives the motorcycle rider more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Motorcycle riders may suddenly need to change speed or adjust lane position to avoid hazards such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.

Use of DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets decreased to 60 percent in 2012, down from 66 percent in 2011, based on the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS). The decrease was most significant among motorcycle passengers, decreasing from 64 percent in 2011 to 46 percent in 2012.  In 2012, 41 percent of fatally injured motorcycle riders and 53 percent of fatally injured motorcycle passengers were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

  • The percentage of motorcycle riders who were intoxicated in fatal crashes (27%) was greater than the percentage of intoxicated drivers of passenger cars (23%) and light trucks (22%) in fatal crashes in 2012.
  • In 2012, 29 percent of all fatally injured motorcycle riders had BAC levels of .08 or higher.
  • Motorcycle riders killed in traffic crashes at night were over 3 times (3.2) more likely to have BAC levels of .08 g/dL or higher than those killed during the day (45% and 14%, respectively).
  • Forty-three percent of the 2,030 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2012 had BAC levels of .08 g/dl or higher. Sixty-four percent of those killed in single-vehicle crashes on weekend nights had BACs of .08 g/dl or higher.