Few love warm weather more than avid motorcyclists. Being married to a rider, I have experienced the thrill of hopping on the back of a motorcycle and cruising down an open highway with the cool wind hitting my face. I have also enjoyed many peaceful rides through the winding roads that lead to Eureka Springs, Ark., and Rogers, Ark.
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has declared May Motorcycle Awareness Month. As more motorcycles appear on area roadways, MoDOT encourages both drivers and riders to be even more alert to help keep each other safe.
The following tips will help drivers make roadways safer for motorcyclists:
* Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle.
* Look for motorcycles in mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes.
* Signal well in advance of turning or changing lanes to ensure motorcyclists are aware of your intentions.
* If a motorcyclist has a turn signal on, wait for the rider to turn before proceeding.
* Allow more distance when following a motorcycle.
* Never drive while distracted.
Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear proper protective gear, including a DOT compliant helmet. Riders should also remember the following tips when traveling by motorcycle:
* Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
* Use turn signals for every turn and lane change. Combining hand signals with turn signals can draw more attention to the rider.
* Position the motorcycle in the lane where it will be easily visible to other drivers.
* Ride with headlights on, even during daylight hours.
* Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Last year, there were 671 crashes in Missouri involving a motorcycle. These crashes resulted in 82 fatalities and 644 serious injuries.
I would like to encourage all drivers and riders to follow MoDOT's advice to help keep motorcyclists safe this year. Parents often tell their teenage children that driving is a privilege and not a right. This could apply to all motorists. We should remember that we are exercising a privilege when we head out on area roadways, and that no motorist has the right to put another in danger.