IRVINE, Calif., May 5, 2011 – Millions of California drivers on freeways throughout the state are again being reminded every day this week to “SHARE THE ROAD, LOOK TWICE FOR MOTORCYCLES,” during May’s Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. That message, posted in bright lights and beginning to appear this week on approximately 700 changeable freeway signs, is scheduled to continue to shine during commute hours through May 8.
“This call for driver awareness comes just at the right time and there are many riders and members of the safety community who have a good reason to thank CalTrans,” said Roger Hagie, chairman of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Board of Trustees. “There’s an increasing number of riders logging an increasing number of miles, while at the same time we have a growing problem with distracted drivers. The MSF Board of Trustees, representing the twelve leading brands that support the MSF, and the entire staff of the MSF, as the California Motorcyclist Safety Program administrator under contract with the California Highway Patrol, applaud CalTrans for bringing this important message to motorists everywhere across the state.”
Officials estimated that last year, in February and again in May, millions of drivers and riders saw this same message on California signs, highlighting the importance of looking out for motorcyclists. A similar viewing audience is expected this week.
It’s more important than ever for motorcyclists to be seen by other roadway users. The latest Motorcycle Industry Council Owner Survey estimates that 11 million motorcycles were in use in 2009, a 5 percent increase over the 2008 motorcycle population of 10.4 million. Motorcycle miles traveled also increased 5 percent from 2008 to 2009 with a total of 27.6 billion miles. The percentage of U.S. households with at least one bike rose from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 6.8 percent in 2009.
“With rising fuel prices, many in the motorcycling community expect there to be more riders on the road this spring and summer, looking to save money while commuting and doing errands,” said Robert Gladden, MSF vice president. “We want motorcyclists to be safe while they’re getting great gas mileage and enjoying that ride at the same time.”
The MSF is encouraging drivers to visit www.forcardrivers.com, where they can find more helpful hints on how to safely share the road with motorcyclists. In addition, the MSF presents these five key rules of the road for drivers:
- Focus on Driving – Don’t be distracted. Never text or surf the Web while driving. Put down the cell phone or mobile device. Food, pets and even passengers can be bad distractions.
- Look for Motorcyclists – Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles and are often harder to see. But motorcycles are out there and you should expect to see them and try to see them in the mix of traffic.
- Give Motorcyclists Enough Room – Keep a safe distance when following a motorcycle. Don’t change lanes too close in front of a rider. Motorcyclists and their machines generally don’t just have fender-benders in collisions with cars.
- Use Your Turn Signals – Always signal your intentions. It’s for everyone’s safety and it’s also the law.
- Keep It in the Car – Trash, including cigarette butts, should stay in the car, not thrown out where it could hit a motorcyclist. Road debris can kill a rider. Heavier items, especially, should be kept inside the car or truck or should be very well secured.
Along with asking drivers to look out for riders, the MSF strongly suggests that motorcyclists wear brightly colored or contrasting helmets and upper-torso riding gear so that they are more conspicuous in traffic.
Riders can find more safety tips and access online training modules by visiting the MSF’s website at www.msf-usa.org.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation® promotes safety through rider training and education, operator licensing tests and public information programs. The MSF works with the federal government, state agencies, the military and others to offer training for all skill levels so riders can enjoy a lifetime of safe, responsible motorcycling. Standards established by the MSF® have been recognized worldwide since 1973.
The MSF is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by BMW, BRP, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha. For safety information or to enroll in the RiderCourseSM nearest you, visit www.msf-usa.org or call (800) 446-9227.