As summer nears and the weather warms, an increased number of riders will be taking to the road. May is motorcycle awareness month, geared to save lives by reminding motorists to keep an eye out for motorcycles.
Deb Saunders-Madding, Owner of Mid South Motorcycle Training Academy said that drivers should remain focused to help keep riders safe.
“Avoid distracted driving (cell phones, reaching for things in the vehicle while driving, etc),” Saunder said.
She also suggests actively looking for motorcycles --which is difficult if the driver isn't a motorcyclist.
Saunders shared some close calls she’s had on the road.
I've been a motorcyclist for 35+ years, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) training Instructor for 10 years, and a motorcycle training Site Coordinator for 4 years,” she said.
“I have had two incidents that could have led to a crash, had I not applied MSF avoidance strategies (Search/Evaluate/Execute aka S.E.E. strategy).”
In one instance a car veered across the center line into Saunders’ lane.
“I had been Searching 12 seconds ahead in my intended path of travel/Evaluating all hazards in that 12 second path/Executing a swerve maneuver into an Escape Path,” Saunders explained.
“My second incident had a truck stall abruptly in front of me, and I had to swerve around the truck, avoiding the very steep ditch to the right, using only the right shoulder to get around the truck and ending in front of the stalled truck.”
Again, she avoided a crash by applying the S.E.E. strategy.
Education is a key element of rider safety.
Saunders said that training classes provide opportunities to learn and practice skills. Especially for new riders with a Basic Rider Courses like the one that Mid South Motorcycle Training offers.
Saunders said that many riders are taught by friends.
“Then they go to Motor Vehicles and obtain their motorcycle license without taking a class, and they are more likely to have crashes,” she said.
“Many people take our Experienced Rider Courses partly because of that reason-- their friend showed them the basics, but may missed a few things and the rider may be having issues with starting out smoothly, cornering, or performing low speed maneuvers like turning the motorcycle around in small spaces,” Saunders said.
Mid South offers training for two wheel Basic and Experienced classes and three wheel Basic classes at multiple locations in Tennessee.
She said that the school can also provide the written test and riding test. Tests usually taken at Motor Vehicles.
“Also, by taking a class, the student should receive an Insurance discount on their motorcycle insurance,” Saunders said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are the most at-risk drivers on the roads. While cyclists are a small 3% of the vehicles on the road, these accounted for a disproportionate 14% of fatalities according to NHTSA data from 2015.
“Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash, and 5 times more likely to be injured,” the report says.