Motorcycle Roadway Safety

Sharing the Road

Ushering the summer season in May, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a good time to increase safety awareness and safety measures for motorcycle riders and vehicle drivers. Sharing the road means motorists must be aware of motorcyclists and understand they share the same rights and responsibilities. Key messages for drivers include:

● Always be on the lookout for motorcyclists

● Focus on driving; avoid distraction

● Use your turn signals

● Give motorcyclists plenty of room

● Don't speed

Improve Your Motorcycling Skills and Safety with Training

Motorcycling is a unique experience. Whether you ride to and from work, prefer the camaraderie of a group ride on the weekend or enjoy the vistas of an off-pavement excursion, motorcycling engages all your senses and creates an exhilarating sense of freedom.

Along with that freedom comes responsibility, and it's crucial to take every safety precaution.

All states require some form of license to ride a motorcycle on the street, demonstrating a minimum level of riding skill and knowledge. Liability insurance also is required. If your state does not require a hands-on training course before applying for a license, consider taking one anyway to learn basic riding skills and how to stay safe in traffic.

Riding a motorcycle requires a heightened sense of awareness, and more strength and coordination than driving a car. Riding also involves some risks not encountered when driving other vehicles. Motorcycle riders require more maneuvering skill and are more vulnerable in a crash. Motorcycles are not as easily seen as cars or trucks because of their narrow profile. Other motorists, particularly those who don’t ride a motorcycle, may not be looking for motorcycles in traffic. This places the motorcyclist at risk, particularly at intersections.

All these risks can be managed through training and education. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers a wide variety of tips and videos on general riding safety, as well as on specific aspects of motorcycling. Check out complete the MSF Library.

Online Education

MSF offers an interactive, 3-hour online course, the Basic eCoursewhich is a key component of the hands-on Basic RiderCourse, but can be also completed as a stand-alone program. Graphics and videos help you understand principles of motorcycling and determine whether riding is right for you. The Basic eCourse includes a Spanish language option.

Hands-on Course

The MSF Basic RiderCourse is a great place to start once you've made the decision to ride. The BRC covers the basics of operating a motorcycle:

● Clutch/throttle control

● Shifting

● Straight-line riding

● Stopping

● Turning

● Swerving

● Safety-oriented mental strategies

YouTube Video

Motorcycle Safety Foundation intro to the Basic Rider Course

You’ll learn that safe riding depends as much on the mental skills of awareness and judgment as it does on the physical skill of maneuvering the machine. Motorcycles and helmets are provided for your use. Successful completion of this course – which typically includes the 3-hour Basic eCourse, five hours of formal classroom activities and 10 hours of riding instruction conducted over two or three sessions, plus knowledge and skill tests -- may waive the license test in your state. The course may also earn you an insurance discount. 

Other Resources

Motorcycle helmet use from NHTSA

● RideApart's 10 most common causes for motorcycle accidents and how to avoid them, including videos taken by helmet crash cams of what can go wrong

How to select the right helmet from NHTSA

NSC provides Defensive Driving Courses that help drivers improve driver safety skills. Learn how to handle real-life driving scenarios from NSC driver training modules, how best to avoid distracted driving to reduce the potential of a tragic incident and how prescription medications may cause impairment.

Learn about motorcycle safety statistics and facts by visiting InjuryFacts, which for 100 years has been the go-to source for safety facts. 

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