Motorcycle Safety

By Tim McCool
With the economy in the shape it is, the Kansas Highway Patrol has seen an increase in the number of motorcyclists on Kansas roads and highways the last few years. This increase of motorcyclists brings with it an increase in collisions. When a collision occurs between a motorcycle and car or truck, it is inevitably a bad thing for the rider.
A lot has been said of the freedom and sense of exhilaration people get from riding a motorcycle out on the open road. The down side is, for that freedom you give up all of the occupant protection that a car gives you. The end result is a personal choice, and hopefully the motorcyclist will make some choices which will increase their safety such as:
• Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet. (Protect the onboard computer!!)
• Taking an approved motorcycle rider education course.
• Using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity.
• Always following the posted speed limits and making adjustments for road hazards.
• Avoiding rides in poor weather conditions.
• Using turn signals to communicate every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it. (You’re doing it for the one you don’t see!!)
• Combining hand and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves.(See previous)
• Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers.
• AND... NEVER mixing alcohol and driving!
Troopers have investigated far too many preventable motorcycle collisions that could have been avoided if every motorist practiced basic defensive driving techniques, slowed down and increased their following distance in adverse driving situations and just drove more courteously.
Both drivers and riders should be aware of blinds spots in and around their vehicles. Drivers should look twice after signaling a turn or lane change before completing the maneuver, and riders should make sure they are not riding in a car or truck driver’s blind spot.
All motorists should avoid driving distractions while sharing the road, such as talking or texting on a cell phone. All it takes is a momentary lapse in attention to cause a crash that can take someone’s life in a matter of seconds; most collisions are done and over in about three to five seconds. The consequences can be life changing.
As my friend Phyllis says: “Be safe, be seen, and keep the shiny side up!”

Tim McCool is a Technical Trooper with the Kansas Highway Patrol

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