Tips for Motorcyclists & Drivers as Summer Begins

SOMERVILLE -- As temperatures continue to climb and more people opt for alternate modes of transportation, Chief David Fallon, and the Somerville Police Department remind drivers to share the road with motorcyclists.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Reports that, in 2013, there were 4668 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes and an estimated 88,000 who were injured. 

"Please be cautious as you begin your summer travel," Chief Falloon said. "Motorcyclists should follow all traffic laws, and drivers should be sure to look twice for motorcycles on the road."

To prevent accidents and fatalities, Somerville Police recommend that drivers and motorcyclists follow several safety tips outlined by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. 

Advice to Drivers

  1. Motorcycles are more difficult to spot than cards because their smaller profiles and drivers are conditioned to look for other cars, not motorcyclists.
  2. Traffic, weather, and road conditions require motorcyclists to react differently than drivers, so it is often difficult to judge and predict when riders may take evasive action. 
  3. Drivers must always be aware of their surroundings. 
  4. Remember: Check twice, save a life.
  5. Remember that motorcyclists have the same privileges as other drivers. Be sure to give riders a full lane of travel, and always keep a close watch for motorcyclists ---especially at intersections and or on highways.
  6. Anticipate a motorcyclist's maneuvers. A piece of road debris that poses no threat to a car may be deadly for motorcyclists. Predict evasive moves a motorcyclist might take by always being aware of your surroundings.Allow enough for the motorcyclist to take evasive actions.

You are more likely to be involved in an accident with a motorcycle when: 

  1. You are making a left turn in front of a rider.
  2. A motorcyclist is riding in your blind spot.
  3. There are hazardous road conditions. Potholes, wet leaves, railroad tracks, and other obstructions may force a motorcyclist to take an action you don't expect.
  4. You have an obstructed line of sight. Sport utility vehicles, delivery vans, and large trucks may block motorcyclists from your view. 

Advice to Riders

  1. Don't assume you are visible to a driver. As a motorcyclist, it is your responsibility to make sure your presence is known to drivers. Select and wear an appropriate helmet with retroreflective materials. A motorcycle helmet is your most valuable piece of protective gear and should be visible to drivers. Wear bright, contrasting protective clothing. If you wear dark clothing wear a fluorescent vest.
  2. Use headlights while riding on the highway, and use high beams instead of low beams. Also, consider a modulating headlight.
  3. Proper lane position is important. It helps drivers see you and protects your riding space. Remember, if you can see a driver in the side-view mirror, the driver can see you. Avoid riding in a drivers blind spot, and always signal before making a move. Never weave between lanes.
  4. Remember, there is no one safe place to ride. Use lane positioning to be seen and to provide extra space for emergency braking situations or avoidance maneuvers. Never share a lane with a car. Drivers may not expect you alongside their cars and may not be aware of your presence.