Motorcycle Safety Month: The Invisible Motorcycle

Motorcycle Safety graphic

Motorcycle Safety graphic

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- May is Motorcycle Safety Month, a time to focus accident prevention efforts on motorcycles at the national, state and local level. 

Motorcycle safety seems to be a never-ending topic. Approximately 10 percent of Airmen ride, so you may ask, "Why do we spend so much time focusing on it?

Perhaps it is because the number one killer of America's Airmen is motorcycle accidents. We focus on motorcycle safety because the vast majority of Americans drive motor vehicles and are often at fault when a collision involves a car or truck versus a motorcycle. Because motorcycle riders are such an isolated and identifiable segment of Airmen, we can make a significant impact. 

There were 4,957 motorcyclists killed in 2012, an astounding seven percent increase from 2011. Across the Air Force in 2013, there were 248 motorcycle accidents with 19 fatal motorcycle accidents. This number slightly decreased in 2014 with 235 motorcycle accidents fatally injuring 16 Airmen and disabling one Airman.

Many of these accidents involve a car or truck and a motorcycle. One statement a driver of a car or truck makes after an accident is constant: "I did not see the motorcyclist." This can be for a variety of reasons: many drivers don't recognize motorcyclists, motorcycles are easily hidden in a driver's blind spot and the speed of a motorcycle can be difficult to judge, resulting in the perception of the motorcycle traveling faster or slower than a driver anticipates.

The one consistent factor across all categories of vehicle operators is consumption of alcohol. 

According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, approximately 50 percent of motorcycle fatalities involved the motorcyclist having alcohol in their system. Alcohol impairs a person's judgment and slows reaction time, and both are extremely dangerous elements to add to the situation when operating any motor vehicle.

Motorcycle safety is not just for the motorcycle rider -- it's for the driver of any vehicle. In most car versus motorcycle collisions, the driver of the car has had a bad day, but the motorcycle rider may never live to see another day. Prepare yourself to share the road with everyone. 

Safety Tips
· Do not allow yourself to be distracted. Driving is your only task. 
· Prepare to encounter motorcycles while driving and search for motorcycles in traffic. 
· When changing lanes, check your blind spot for unseen vehicles, especially motorcycles. 
· When you see a motorcycle, take a few extra seconds to assess its speed so you don't pull into its path.