Each year, about 15% of fatal crashes in Maryland involve motorcycles. These don’t just occur on highways or at night, when motorcycle riding is inherently riskier either. More than half of these crashes occur on roads with 40 mph speed limits or during daylight hours. Motorcyclists and drivers must share responsibility for making our roads safer for all vehicles. Here are some of the best motorcycle safety tips for riders and drivers.
Advice for Motorcyclists
- Check your bike. Always do a quick walk-around before you ride to make sure your lights and signals work. It’s also important to check your tires for wear and ensure they’re at the right pressure, so they’ll make good contact with the road.
- Check the weather. It’s possible to ride safely during the winter months, but you should always check the forecast before you hit the open road.
- Wear a helmet every time. This isn’t a matter of personal style or choice: it’s the law. You must wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in the state of Maryland.
- Dress for visibility. Riding gear should protect you physically and make you easier for fellow drivers to see. Bright colors, reflective strips, and decals on your bike will also help for visibility at night.
- Ride for visibility. Since motorcycles are smaller than cars, they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to overall visibility. Use your headlight and good lane positioning to help drivers see you better.
- Always signal lane changes. Naturally, this is important for indicating your intent to change lanes. The blinking light of your turn signal may also capture a driver’s attention if they happened not to notice you before.
- Give yourself space. Always change lanes gradually and make sure you give yourself ample room to stop.
- Never ride while tired or impaired. Riding while tired can diminish your concentration and reduce your reaction time. Riding while impaired in any way is unsafe and illegal.
- Be a defensive driver. These excellent tips for defensive driving in a car apply to motorcycle riders, as well.
Advice for Drivers
- Watch for motorcycles. They accelerate more quickly than most cars, so keep an eye out for them in traffic and at intersections.
- Check your blind spots. Of course you should always check your blind spots while changing lanes. It helps to be aware that motorcycles, being smaller vehicles, can slip into your blind spots even more easily than cars.
- Don’t pass too closely. Motorcyclists don’t have the protection of a car around them, so even the slightest nudge can result in a catastrophic crash.
- Give motorcycles a greater following distance. Motorcycle speeds are sometimes difficult to estimate. Rear-ending a car might be a minor crash, but rear-ending a motorcycle is often fatal for the rider.
- Respect their lane. A motorcycle doesn’t take up the full width of a lane, but you should always respect that space for their safety.
- Always signal your intentions. Whether you’re turning or changing lanes, signaling will allow motorcycles and other vehicles to anticipate your movements.
- Drive defensively. Again, we encourage all drivers to be defensive, observing all right-of-way and traffic signals to keep everyone safe on our roads.
- Treat the motorcycle as you would a person. It may sound silly, but a motorcyclist is just as vulnerable as a person in the road without the protection of a vehicle around them.
Share the Road
Whether you’re on a motorcycle or in a car, always share the road. Remember, for a motorcycle rider, there is no such thing as a fender bender. Every crash could potentially be fatal. Drive defensively and be courteous so that all travelers on Maryland roads get to their destinations safely.