The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding drivers on Texas roadways to use extra caution around motorcycles as part of Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month, observed during the month of May.
"Unfortunately motorcyclists are at a disadvantage when traveling on any roadway because of the size of their vehicle compared to others on the road," said DPS Director Steven McCraw. "Driving is a tremendous responsibility, and DPS encourages all motorists to actively watch out for each other. Motorcyclists can help protect themselves by wearing helmets and always obeying traffic laws; and other drivers can do their part by looking twice and giving motorcycle riders additional space. "
In 2013, 494 people died on Texas roadways while riding motorcycles and scooters, representing a five percent increase from the previous year. However, those deaths accounted for approximately 15 percent of all traffic deaths in the state last year.
DPS recommends all drivers "Share the Road" and "Look Twice" for motorcycles, which are Texas Department of Transportation public awareness campaigns highlighting motorcycle safety. Motorists should use caution, especially at intersections and when changing lanes - two common places where serious motorcycle collisions occur. Half of all fatal motorcycle crashes in Texas occur because a car or truck driver never saw the motorcyclist.
Motorcyclists must be properly licensed to operate a motorcycle in the State of Texas. Currently, more than 440,000 motorcycles and mopeds are registered in Texas, and that number is expected to grow. Each year the DPS Motorcycle Safety Unit trains about 42,000 motorcycle operators.
The Motorcycle Safety Unit coordinates training courses at more than 200 locations around the state for both basic and experienced riders. For more information on motorcycle training or to find a training location in your area, please call 1-800-292-5787 or visit www.dps.texas.gov/msb.
Drivers and motorcyclists can significantly reduce their chances of being involved in a serious or fatal crash by adhering to basic safety measures, including:
- Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Allow more following distance - three or four seconds - when behind a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency .
- Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
- Never drive while distracted.