Perhaps you’ve noticed an increased number of bumper stickers advising drivers to be aware of motorcycles around them. Motorcycles can be an absolute delight to ride, but they can also be dangerous. Because of their open construction, the danger to a motorcycle driver involved in a crash can be quite substantial. In 2011, 81,000 injuries were sustained from motorcycle crashes, and over 4,300 fatalities. In 2012, the number of fatalities rose to more than 5,000.


These numbers clearly show the critical need for safety awareness by both motorcyclists and other drivers. May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, and many states have made official proclamations and resolutions to promote safe motorcycle riding and driving. Ohio Injury Law joins in the effort to educate and inform the public about motorcycles and to remind drivers of important safety procedures — just in time for the summer motorcycle driving season.


The main attraction of a motorcycle is the freedom it provides. Riders love the feel of a motorcycle and enjoy not being restricted by seat belts, doors, and air bags. The openness of a bike is what draws motorcyclists to ride, despite the danger. Building a protective cage or enclosure on a motorcycle, even if it were for the driver’s safety, is simply not something that motorcyclists are going to embrace. While some have made efforts to push through additional safety features, the most effective methods already exist. Helmets, awareness, and driving with common sense are all key to creating a safe riding environment.


Helmets are the most commonly used safety feature by motorcyclists on the road today. A typical helmet completely surrounds the head and provides protection from all angles. While helmets do not guarantee riders will avoid head injuries in a crash, they do significantly lessen the chance of a fatal head injury. In 2008, helmets saved the lives of 1,829 motorcyclists.


Studies have also indicated the number of accidents and fatalities resulting from intoxicated motorcyclists is higher than for drivers of traditional vehicles. Because motorcycles provide less protection than cars, an accident to due intoxication is much more likely to be fatal for the motorcyclist. While this may seem like common sense, it is vitally important for motorcyclists to always drive sober, and for motorists as well.


Sharing the road and being aware of other drivers on the road is something every person learns as soon as they are old enough to drive. Despite this, many people are simply not looking out for motorcyclists as much as they should be. Because motorcyclists are smaller, drivers may not see them even if they perform a cursory check of their side and rearview mirrors before turning or making a lane change. Drivers of all types of vehicles must remain vigilant while driving.


Motorcycle drivers must remember to make themselves as visible as possible to other drivers on the road. Wear brightly colored clothing, keep the motorcycle’s headlight on at all times and stay out of blind spots to keep yourself safe. After all, if a motorist fails to see you before they swerve into your lane, it might be their fault, but it could mean your life.


Driving a motorcycle can be one of summer’s greatest pleasures. Ohio Injury Law wishes you a safe summer. Enjoy the ride!