The perils of distracted driving take a front seat during May, which is designated as national Motorcycle Awareness Month.
The initiative, supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, encourages drivers to watch for motorcycles and understand that motorcycle riders enjoy the same rights and privileges as operators of other vehicles.
The slogans are everywhere, on billboards and bumper stickers, badges and T-shirts: "Watch out for motorcycles." "Look twice, save a life." "Share the road."
But not all motorists heed the warnings. And, with the warmer temperatures spilling across most of the country in May, the roads are filling with riders.
Increased vigilance is paramount.
"Too many drivers become cocooned in their own world and fail to notice a motorcyclist in the lane beside them or in oncoming traffic as they are making a turn," said Rob Dingman, AMA president and CEO. "Motorcycle Awareness Month is an campaign to remind other motorists to look around, check your mirrors and intersections, then check again before beginning a lane change or turn."
Distracted and inattentive driving is increasing the danger for all motorists, but especially for motorcyclists, who are not protected by a car's metal structure and airbags.
Drivers can avoid crashes with motorcyclists by taking extra care and looking twice to spot motorcycles in traffic -- especially at intersections -- respecting the motorcyclists' space on the road and by not following too closely.
The AMA also strongly encourages motorcyclists to take training, wear appropriate safety gear and practice safe riding techniques.
The AMA has long advocated that local and state governments maintain or increase funding for motorcycle rider education and motorist awareness programs -- two highly effective strategies to reduce the likelihood of motorcycle crashes.
Video and audio messages can be downloaded at www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/Resources/PublicServiceAnnouncements.aspx.
AMA position statements on distracted and inattentive vehicle operation and rider education, as well as other subjects, can be found here: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/positionstatements.