- Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Now that the warmer weather has officially arrived, you've probably noticed an increase of motorists and pedestrians out and about heading to graduation parties, cookouts, and vacations. The summer months also mean that motorcycle season is in full swing, so cooperation from all road users is essential during this time and will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our highways.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), research shows that motorcyclists are significantly overrepresented in traffic crashes and fatalities each year. In fact, in 2020, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were about 28 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and were four times more likely to be injured. There were 5,579 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2020, an 11% increase from 2019.
Annually the third Monday in June, known as Ride to Work Day, celebrates the joys of motorcycle riding and increases awareness for motorcycle safety. Ride to Work Day helps advocate and support the use of motorcycles and scooters for transportation. Motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges as any other motor vehicle operator on our roads. Drivers need to respect motorcyclists, give them room, and look out for them. Drivers should understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists such as size and visibility, and motorcycle riding practices like downshifting and weaving, to know how to anticipate and respond to them.
As a driver of a motor vehicle, when interacting with motorcyclists, avoid distractions that place motorcyclists and other road users at risk. Remember, motorcycles are smaller than most vehicles and difficult to see. Their size can also cause other drivers to misjudge their speed and distance. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times and always use a turn signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic. It is extremely important to remember to check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic. Always allow more follow distance when behind a motorcycle, as this gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
As for motorcyclists, always keep safety as your top priority. NHTSA offers the following tips to ensure your ride to work, or any destination, is safe:
- Observe all traffic laws.
- Wear a DOT-compliant helmet with a “FMVSS No. 218 Certified” label and other personal protective gear.
- Never ride while impaired or distracted.
- Always complete rider education courses and ride with a current motorcycle license.
- Drive and ride defensively.
- Obey the speed limit.
MassDOT's Highway Assistance Program sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance is on patrol to help all motorists, including motorcyclists, on the highways. Patrol operators monitor some of the state's busiest highways around Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonal). The Highway Assistance Patrol covers 13 major state roadways and interstates, the Emergency Service Patrol covers the Mass Pike (I-90) from New York to Boston and the Incident Response Operators cover the Metropolitan Highway System and tunnels. The Highway Assistance Patrol is in service Monday–Friday between the hours of 6 a.m.–10 a.m. and 3 p.m.–7 p.m. During holidays, there are extended routes in heavy traffic areas. On I-90, and in Boston's tunnel system, assistance is provided 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
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