Motorcycle Alert – If it’s Bumpers vs. Bones, Bumpers always Win

A Guest Column by Chief Jerry Narsh Lake Orion Police Dept. 

It’s that time of year folks, we have to shift into motorcycle awareness mode.
We are already seeing our motorcycle friends and neighbors chasing winter away from Lake Orion, so please take a moment to consider some scary data, and some interesting data, that tells us cycle riders and crash statistics are changing.
And we have some simple safety ideas to help mentally look for motorcycles before we pull out, or turn.
Crash Facts & Data:
• In 2017, 4,990 people died in motorcycle crashes, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report.
Motorcyclists were about 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled and five times more likely to be injured.
• The majority of fatal crashes are a result of impact with passenger cars.
• Most dangerous time period: 3-6 p.m.
• Michigan has the 10th highest rider fatalities in the USA, with 142 killed in 2017. Florida is the highest with 574.
Changing Data on Who is Riding –
Older motorcyclists account for more than half of all motorcyclist fatalities. NHTSA data show that 56 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes were age 40 or over. The number of motorcyclists age 40 and over killed in crashes increased by 63 percent from 2003 to 2017.
In contrast, fatalities among young motorcyclists have declined, relative to other age groups.
QUICK TIPS – Ten Things All Car & Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles
1. Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the car or truck driver, not the motorcyclist, is at fault.
There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcycle – they ignore it (usually unintentionally).
2. Because of its narrow profile, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots (door/roof pillars) or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc). Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.
3. Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed.
When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
4. Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say three or four seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
5. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind.
Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
6. Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. Make sure a motorcycle’s signal is for real.
7. Maneuverability is one of a motorcycles better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.
8. Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because you can’t always stop “on a dime.”
9. When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle – see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor or relative.
10. If a driver crashes into a motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian and causes serious injury, the driver would likely never forgive himself/herself.
Please Drive Aware – and Share the Road!