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Message from the Highway Safety Planning Agency

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The increased popularity of motorcycle use in Alaska is substantiated by the increase in motorcycle registrations and motorcycle operator licenses. This popularity is also reflected by the increase in motorcycle deaths and injuries upon our roadways.

As you know, the motorcycle rider has several disadvantages when operating in traffic. Some of these include the instability of a two-wheel vehicle, low visibility in traffic situations, and the lack of protective devices. The majority of serious motorcycle injuries and deaths are the direct result of a head injury. The importance of wearing an approved motorcycle helmet cannot be overstressed.

We urge you to enjoy your motorcycle and to have a safe ride by driving defensively, use your headlight at all times, and most importantly, wear your helmet.

Items to consider when driving a vehicle other than a motorcycle:

  • Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway.
  • Allow the motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem as though there is enough room in the traffic lane for an automobile and a motorcycle, remember the motorcycle needs room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
  • Approximately one-half of all motorcycle crashes involve another motor vehicle. Nearly 40 percent were caused by the other vehicle turning left in front of the motorcyclist.
  • Motorcycles are small and may be difficult to see. Motorcycles have a much smaller profile than vehicles, which can make it more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows the motorcyclist to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
  • Remember that motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look due to their smaller size. Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – motorcycle signals usually are not self-cancelling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
  • Remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to you pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists may suddenly change speed or adjust their position within a lane in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
  • Allow more distance – three or four seconds – following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions, a motorcycle can stop more quickly than a car.