With May’s warmer weather and longer days, motorcycle enthusiasts are anxious to get back on the road. May is also Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month – a reminder that every road user plays a role in motorcycle safety and that sharing the road with motorcycles is important and easy to do. Motorcycle riders are vulnerable road users because they don’t have the benefit of standard safety equipment found in vehicles, such as airbags and seatbelts. The only protective gear they have is their helmet and whatever else they are wearing at the time.
Help keep motorcyclists safe this season:
Be cautious when making a left turn.
One of the most common causes of collisions between motorcycles and vehicles is when a vehicle makes a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle. Because of their size, motorcycles can be hard to see, especially at dawn or dusk. Some motorcycle turn signals do not automatically shut off, so wait until you’re sure a motorcyclist is turning before making your left turn. It can also be hard to gauge an oncoming motorcycle’s speed so, be patient and play it safe. There are lots to think about when making a left turn, not only other vehicles but pedestrians and cyclists as well. Always scan the intersection and make your left turn safely.
Watch out for blind spots.
Because of the size of motorcycles, they may be hard to see in your mirrors. Make sure you do your own visual check before changing lanes and avoid driving in another driver’s blind spot. Before making a right or left turn, check your own blind spots to make sure a motorcycle isn’t passing. Motorcycles are allowed to ride side-by-side with a limit of two riders in a lane. So, make sure you do a full check of your blind spots to make sure there isn’t a second rider.
Be alert and keep your distance.
Stay focused on your surroundings and anticipate possible movements by other road users. Give motorcycles space, allowing for at least a 3-second following distance when you are behind a motorcycle. If the motorcyclist slows down or suddenly stops, you will need enough distance to stop your car and avoid them. Remember, motorcyclists can downshift to lower their speed, so you won’t necessarily see their brake lights. Never pass a motorcyclist in the same lane. A motorcyclist needs enough room to maneuver and having a shared lane can be unsafe, especially if a traffic situation arises. If you happen to be in a situation where you are sharing a lane with a motorcyclist, do not try to pass them. Slow down and move to a lane away from them.
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. Small mistakes can be deadly for riders and collisions involving motorcycles can be quite serious. According to the City of Ottawa’s Annual Safety Reports,, in 2019 out of a total of 27 fatal collisions, 6 involved motorcyclists. In Ontario, 54 motorcycle fatalities accounted for 10% of total road fatalities in the same year. Remember, road safety is the responsibility of all road users. With everyone being alert and aware of their surroundings, we can all enjoy the roads safely!
Experienced Rider Course
If you’re an experienced rider looking for a refresher before hitting the open road this year, check out our Experienced Rider course. The purpose of this 8-hour course is to give riders a chance to improve their skills on their own motorcycles. We encourage all riders to take this course whenever they feel need a refresher. You can find out more at https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/motorcycle-training/.
Earn your Road SMARTS
Road safety is a shared responsibility, regardless of how you use the road. Our friends, family, children, and colleagues are impacted several times daily by road safety. When tragedy strikes, too often we feel powerless in terms of making an impact to prevent further issues. If you would like to get more involved in road safety, we invite you to take the #RoadSMARTS pledge. By taking the Road SMARTS Pledge, you Support Making All Road Travel Safe, which can help improve road safety for everyone. When road behaviours change, accidents can be reduced. For more information and to take the pledge for free, visit https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/road-smarts.