May is Motorcycle Awareness Month.
This is truly an exciting year as once again representatives from all 33 New Mexico counties have committed to signing proclamations that recognize May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. These declarations enhance awareness for the safety of our motorcycle-riding community and is certainly a great achievement. It is our hope New Mexico’s leadership and initiative will spread across our nation to raise the same level of motorcycle safety awareness.
It is reported that 2/3 of all motorcycle accidents involving vehicles are caused by the driver of the vehicle. The No. 1 cause of those accidents is the result of the driver not seeing the motorcycle. Intersections are the most predominant location for vehicle-related motorcycle accidents; 42% of these crashes occur when a vehicle is at an intersection making a left-hand turn. Many of these accidents would be avoided had the vehicle driver looked twice for oncoming motorcycles.
It is important, however, that motorcyclists ride smart. We, as safety conscious motorcycle riders, need to wear proper protective clothing and helmets, stay out of the blind spots of vehicle drivers, remember some drivers have a hard time judging distance and speed – especially that of a motorcycle – and never assume a driver can see us.
We also need to remain cognizant of the environmental and road conditions including wildlife, pot holes, road debris, uneven heights between lanes, slick pavement markings, strong winds, blinding sun and sun reflections and the outside temperature. Taking a motorcycle safety course is also recommended as it will heighten your riding skills, make your ride enjoyable and increase your odds of riding safely and without an incident.
New Mexico is one of our country’s premiere motorcycling destinations due to the mild weather, beautiful scenery, incredible mountain highways and our motorcycle friendly reputation. Whether in a vehicle or on a motorcycle, let’s all work to drive safely and watch for one another, looking twice and sharing the road. We all might just save a life!
Richard Sturgeon is chairman of the Motorcycle Safety Committee at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He lives in Los Alamos.