Motorcycle Safety



Motorcycles provide a fuel efficient and economical means of transportation.  Their popularity for recreation, touring and commuting continues to grow.  However, riding can be very dangerous as motorcycles do not provide the same amount of protection in a crash as vehicles do.  Motorcyclists and motorists need to work together to keep everyone safe on the road.  Drivers should be actively "looking" for bikers during the prime riding season since they are smaller and harder to see.  Motorcyclists should follow all traffic laws and signs and wear appropriate protective gear, including a helmet!

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What Car and Truck Drivers Should Know about Motorcyclists 

1. Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle.  Most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault.

2. Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car's blind spot or masked by objects (bushes, fences, etc...).  Take an extra moment to look before changing lanes or turning at intersections.

3.  Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is.  It also may be difficult to judge a motorcycle's speed.

4.  Motorcyclists often slow down by downshifting or rolling off of the throttle, thus not activating the brake.  Allow more following distance and predict that a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.

5.  Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles and wind.  They are not trying to be reckless or show off.

6.  Turn signals on a motorcycle are usually not self-canceling so some riders may forget to turn them off.  Make sure a motorcycle's signal is for real.

7.  Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle's better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don't expect a motorcyclists to always be able to dodge out of the way.

8. Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult.  Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle.

9.  When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle - see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor or relative.


Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

  • Always wear an approved helmet and eye protection.  "Novelty Helmets" offer little protection and are illegal to wear in NYS.
  • Always wear high quality riding gear designed to protect a rider during a fall.
  • Wear high visibility vests, garments with reflectorized features and accessories to help you be more visible to drivers.
  • Maintain your motorcycle.  Be sure lights and horns are working and mirrors are adjusted properly.  Tires should be properly inflated and have legal tread depth. 
  • Be alert. Scan the road constantly.
  • NEVER ride impaired.
  • Share the road safely with other roadway users.
  • Most crashes between cars and motorcycles involve turning left.  If you are preparing to cross traffic or turn left, take a second look to make sure it is safe to proceed.
  • SLOW DOWN!  Speed is the number one cause of traffic crashes.
  • Allow adequate space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Observe and obey traffic laws, signs and signals.
  • Let other motorists know your intentions.  Signal or use hand signals when turning. 



Motorcycle Safety Foundation

NYS Governor's Traffic Safety Committee