Motorcycles are more popular than ever. In 2002, sales were up a remarkable 9.4 percent, as reported by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), marking the 10th consecutive year of rising motorcycle sales in the United States. With so many new and returning riders, and with prime riding season upon us, it’s a good time to review motorcycle safety.
Drawing attention to the need to “share the road safely,” the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) urges all motor vehicle drivers to be on the watch for motorcycles and reminds motorcyclists to ride responsibly.
According to MSF President Tim Buche, “Motorists often don’t think to look for motorcycles on the road, in fact, the most common type of collision occurs when a driver pulls out from an intersection directly in front of a motorcyclist. Usually they say they never even saw the bike. That’s why it’s key for all motorists to be on the lookout for motorcycles, no matter what time of year, and to respect their right to be there.”
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers these guidelines for motorcyclists:
1) Get Trained -- Whether you’re a new rider or someone with years of experience, there’s a MSF RiderCourse for you. Research has shown that more than 90 percent of all riders involved in crashes were either self-taught or taught by friends. The MSF’s newest curriculum, the Basic RiderCourse, is available at over 1,100 training sites across the U.S. Call information on training in your area, toll-free (800) 446-9227 or visit www.msf-usa.org.
2) Get Licensed -- For information on licensing requirements in your state, visit www.msf-usa.org/pages/operatorfs.html. MSF worked with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update an improved motorcycle operator licensing system, creating an official national standard.
3) Ride Sober -- Recent data confirms that alcohol is involved in almost half of all single-vehicle motorcycle crashes. Don’t drink and ride. And don’t ride impaired. Drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, or otherwise) diminish visual capabilities and affect judgement.
4) Ride Responsibly -- Wear protective gear, including a helmet approved to meet DOT (Department of Transportation) standards, eye protection, jacket, full-fingered gloves, long pants, and over-the-ankle boots. Keep your bike well maintained. Maintain proper lane positioning to further increase your visibility to drivers, and keep a “space cushion” between your bike and other traffic. Most importantly, know your skill level and ride within it.
Continuing a 30-year commitment to motorcycle safety
Since its inception in 1973, MSF has supported state, military and independent programs in training more than 2.5 million motorcyclists to ride safely. The number of students trained has grown steadily, including an estimated increase of 15 percent in 2001 versus 2000. There were an estimated 250,000 RiderCourse participants in 2002.
MSF offers an expanded number of rider training courses that provide motorcyclists with continuous opportunities to expand their knowledge base and improve riding skills, whether they are new or re-entry riders. Between 2003 and 2005, MSF expects to release over 18 new training courses for motorcyclists as part of its growing Rider Education and Training System.
To help meet current demand, MSF works with state motorcycle safety program administrators and their teams of MSF certified RiderCoaches to increase the training capacity of their states’ training programs. MSF also continues to increase its partnerships within the traffic safety community. MSF is supported in these endeavors by its member companies, which have steadily increased their funding for MSF in each of the last six years.
Motorcycle Awareness Materials Available from MSF
MSF actively promotes safe riding messages by making the following training and educational materials available:
* Public Service Announcements: Ian Ziering, best known for his role on the television series, “Beverly Hills 90210,” helped promote motorcycle safety by taping two 30-second television PSAs, co-produced by MSF and RADD (Recording Artists Against Drunk Driving.) Downloadable print PSAs are available at http://www.msf-usa.org/pages/msfnews.html.
* VHS Videos: “Cars, Motorcyclist and A Common Road” focuses on enhancing motorist awareness; “Riding Straight” deals with alcohol-impaired riding; and “The MSF Guide to Group Riding.”
* “Take It Easy” public information campaign featuring small ads, large posters, transit signage, and PSAs.
* MSF-branded protective gear, including reflective vests and a reflective helmet band.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a national, not-for-profit organization promoting the safety of motorcyclists with programs in rider training, operator licensing and public information. MSF is sponsored by the U.S. manufacturers and distributors of BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio/Vespa, Suzuki, Vengeance, Victory and Yamaha motorcycles.
Remember to have fun and ride safe!!!