The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is reminding motorists to be vigilant of motorcycles following a recent spike in fatalities involving motorcyclists.
In 2017, 96 motorcycle drivers were killed in crashes on Louisiana roads, according to statistics from the Highway Safety Research Group at LSU. That represents a 9 percent increase over 2016 and the most motorcycle driver deaths in the state since 2009 when 101 were killed.
The commission says that motorcyclists are often they are more vulnerable on the road because of their relatively small size. To combat the recent rise in fatal crashes, they have released a number of tips for other drivers to keep in mind while on the road.
Below are tips for other drivers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, behind a motorcycle to give the motorcyclist enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Always check mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes and at intersections. Nearly 40 percent of all motorcycle crashes are caused by another vehicle turning left in front of the motorcyclist.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Minor changes in road conditions can pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Be aware that motorcyclists may change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
Here are some safety tips for motorcycle riders from the National Safety Council:
- Always wear a helmet; a motorcycle crash is a “violent event,” and more than 80% of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, according to NHTSA.
- Choose a bike that fits you; the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides information on survival rates associated with various types of bikes.
- Invest in antilock brakes.
- New riders should take a motorcycle safety course, and intermediate and experienced riders should take refresher courses after being off their bikes for a while.
- Know the rules of the road and follow them.
- Never drink and ride.
- Be aware that riding with a passenger requires considerably more skill.
- Drive defensively, especially at intersections, where half of all collisions occur.
- Watch for hazards like potholes, manhole covers, oil slicks, puddles, debris, railroad tracks, and gravel.
- Assume you are invisible to other motorists and position yourself to be seen.
- Use headlights day and night.
- Be courteous; don’t weave in and out of lanes or ride on the shoulder or between lanes.
- Signal well in advance of changing lanes or direction.
- Don’t speed.
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing that is durable and boots that cover the ankles.
- Wear goggles, glasses or use a face shield that is ventilated to prevent fogging, and make sure it’s clear if riding at night.