Maine motorists reminded to share the road



AUGUSTA — May begins the season of warmer weather and that means motorcycles will be out on the roads. The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety reminds all motorists that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and to share the road. 

With thousands of deaths nationally each year, motorcyclists are significantly overrepresented in traffic crashes and fatalities. Nationally in 2020, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were about 28 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and were four times more likely to be injured.  Even the smallest momentary lapse in a vehicle driver’s awareness can result in the death of an unseen motorcyclist. 

During 2020, 29 motorcycle riders were killed in traffic crashes in Maine, with 62 percent happening on rural roadways. While crashes have decreased since 2017, fatalities continue to increase. 

“We really want to spread the word to all Maine motorists to always share the road with all other road users, and to especially remember to keep an eye out for motorcyclists during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month,” said Lauren V. Stewart, director of the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety. “It can be easy to overlook a motorcycle due to their smaller size and having not seen them on the roads all winter. For this reason, it’s more important we put forth extra effort in keeping watch. Take a second to take a second look, it just could save a life.” 

Tips for motorists 

  • Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has the same rights of the road as any other motorist. Always allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane. 
  • Remember, motorcycles are smaller than most vehicles and difficult to see. Their size can also cause other drivers to misjudge their speed and distance. 
  • Always use a turn signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic. 
  • If a motorcycle has a signal on, remember motorcycle signals are often non-canceling, and the motorcyclist could have forgotten to turn it off. Proceed with caution to allow the motorcyclists the opportunity to complete the maneuver. 
  • Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections. 
  • Look, then take a second look before turning left. Many crashes with motorcycles happen when a motorist is turning left. 
  • Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle; this gives the motorcycle rider more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Motorcycle riders may suddenly need to change speed or adjust their lane position to avoid hazards such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings and grooved pavement. 
  • Never drive distracted or impaired. 

Tips for motorcyclists 

  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear. 
  • Always complete rider education courses and ride with a current motorcycle license. In 2020, nationwide, 36 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were riding without valid motorcycle licenses. 
  • Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed. 
  • Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn. 
  • Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility. 
  • Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers. 
  • Never ride distracted or impaired. 

For more information on motorcycle safety, visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles. 

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