Motorists and motorcyclists can stay safe by sharing the road

By: Rachel Samanyi
Motorists and motorcyclists can both help prevent crashes and fatalities this season by sharing the road.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Wyoming Highway Patrol are urging drivers and riders to take their time and be on the lookout for each other.

“Due to the size of a motorcycle, it is sometimes difficult for another motorist to see them.  Running a headlight can help this issue,” said Sgt. Jeremy Beck with the Wyoming Highway Patrol.  “We also encourage all motorcyclists to wear a helmet and drive safely.”

Statistics from WYDOT’s Highway Safety Program indicated motorcycle fatalities and crashes have fluctuated over the past five years.

Wyoming averages about 19 total motorcycle fatalities a year when looking at data over a five-year period. The lowest fatalities were in 2018 and 2014 with both having 16 each. There were 17 total fatalities in 2017, 24 in 2016 and 24 in 2015, statistics indicated.

“The warmer weather means more motorcycles will be out on the roads,” said Jennifer Goodrich, WYDOT Motorcycle Safety Program coordinator. “In places like Wyoming, where there are seasonal riders, it’s imperative that motorists be on the lookout for motorcycles and share the road.”

On the national level, motorcyclist fatalities are on the rise. The most current statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated there were 5,286 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2016, which is a 5-percent increase from 2015’s figure of 5,029.

“It’s important for motorists to understand the challenges motorcyclists face because of their small profile,” Goodrich said. “Motorcycles can be easily hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Motorists also may have a harder time judging a motorcycle’s speed and distance. The best safety practices are for motorists to be extra cautious when driving near motorcycles. Be sure to look twice to save a life.”

Motorists and motorcyclists can take extra precautions this summer and during other times of the year when motorcycles are out on the roads to ensure all are safe.

Motorists should:

  • Stay alert when they see a motorcycle’s turn signal activated. Motorcycle turn signals can be non-canceling, which means the rider may have forgotten to turn it off. Before proceeding, motorists should make sure the motorcycle is turning.
  • Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
  • Allow a greater following distance behind a motorcycle. Give them about a three-to-four-second following distance. That will give the motorist more time to maneuver or stop behind a motorcycle in an emergency.

Motorcyclists should:

  • Wear high-visibility clothing, a helmet and other safety protection when driving.
  • Check their motorcycles to ensure they are safe for the road.
  • Know local traffic laws.
  • Obey traffic lights, speeds and signs.
  • Commit to riding alcohol and drug-free.