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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

14 tips so motorcyclists and drivers can share the roads safety — and prevent motorcycle accidents

Given the 2012 Michigan motorcycle helmet repeal — that now allows motorcycle operators ages 21 and older to ride without a helmet if they meet certain requirements — it’s perhaps fitting that May is motorcycle safety month.

Motorcycle accident deaths are actually down in Michigan for 2011, according to a recent article in The Oakland Press, Michigan traffic deaths fall 5 percent in 2011. Specifically, motorcycle accident deaths dropped 13 percent, from 125 in 2010 to 109 in 2011 (Michigan State Police (MSP) Criminal Justice Information Center).

Sadly, that likely will not be the case after the helmet repeal. My own hunch as a lawyer helping people injured in motorcycle accidents is that it’s a safe bet that motorcycle fatalities in Michigan will rise significantly in the next few years.

But since May is national Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we have an opportunity to spread the word about the importance of wearing motorcycle helmets, and other simple ways for drivers and motorcyclists to safely share the road and prevent accidents.

Safety tips for motorcyclists and drivers to share the road

Today I’d like to share the following tips from Michigan-motorcycle-awareness.org.

For car and truck drivers:

1. Be aware of motorcyclists: After the long winter, it’s important to look out for more people on motorcycles.

2. Share the road: Motorcyclists are also entitled to a full lane of traffic.

3. Keep a safe distance from motorcycles: Because of road hazards or other traffic conditions, bikers may have to stop or suddenly swerve.

4. Check your blind spots: Remember to check before you turn, change lanes, back up or park.

5. Be extra alert for motorcycles near intersections: Pay particular attention when making left turns across traffic, to be sure that a motorcyclist may not be coming through.

6. Use extreme care in passing: Because of the smaller size of a motorcycle, a vehicle that passes too close or too fast could cause the cyclist to lose control.

For motorcyclists:

7. Always wear your helmet: Here’s a blog on choosing a safe motorcycle helmet. Wear a helmet despite the new Michigan helmet repeal that says you don’t have to.

8. Know the weather before you ride: Keep in mind that weather conditions, road surfaces and fatigue pose greater problems for motorcyclists than drivers.

9. Wear brightly colored clothing so other drivers can see you: Also remember to use your headlights.

10. Assume the driver of the other car or truck doesn’t see you: Drive defensively and be prepared to take evasive action.

11. Ride near the center of the lane: This helps you stay out of other drivers’ blind spots.

12. Do not ride two abreast in a single lane: When riding in groups, ride in a staggered formation, allowing a safe distance to maneuver in an emergency.

13. Do not speed: Slow down at night and during bad weather, when there is reduced visibility.

14. Keep your motorcycle in safe condition: Using the safety and maintenance checks listed in your owner’s manual as a guide.

This month, we will be posting pre-season and pre-ride checklists for motorcyclists, as well as other important information about helmet use, motorcycle safety and help for attorneys handling motorcycle accident lawsuits. Stay tuned.

Steven M. Gursten is a motorcycle accident attorney and head of Michigan Auto Law. Steve has received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He frequently appears in the media on motorcycle safety and the proposed helmet repeal, and is available for comment.

Related information to protect yourself:

What motorcycle insurance is required with the helmet law repeal?

What happens when a motorcyclist causes an accident in Michigan?

What do to after a motorcycle crash

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan motorcycle accident attorneys.

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