The Enormous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is Happening Now in South Dakota

As many as 600,000 bikers are expected for this year’s rally.  Public safety officials are asking everyone to stay alert and reminding other motorists to  wear seat belts.

Photo of a staggered group of motorcyclists.
A small, staggered ‘platoon’ of motorcyclists.   Copyright image.

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Lane-splitting on Motorcycles — Legal or Illegal in Washington State?

People differ on whether lane splitting on motorcycles should be legal or not, but this technique — as with, for example, permitting “right turns on red” at traffic lights — has more to do with the convenience of drivers or riders than it does with best safety standards. In any event, whatever your stance on the subject, it is NOT legal in Washington State.

Photo of two motorcyclists that are 'lane-splitting' on a highway by being between larger vehicles in adjoining lanes.
Two of the motorcyclists in this photo are participating ‘lane-splitting’ by being sandwiched between larger vehicles in adjoining  lanes — the orange bike and the one furthest from the camera.  Car and truck drivers are just as responsible for avoiding this situation as are the bike riders. This photo was taken in Greece but the principle is the same everywhere. Copyright image.

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More Motorcyclists Over 50 Years Old are Getting Killed in the USA

Media excerpt:

“[In the USA, there] were 1,661 motorcycle deaths of people 50 and older in 2015, according to a November 2016 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That’s an increase of nearly 7 percent, up from 1,553 deaths the previous year. That age group accounted for 35 percent of the total 4,693 motorcycle fatalities, the most for 2015.

Photo of U.S. skull-cap-style crash helmets, which clearly cannot be as effective in preventing head injuries.
U.S. skull-cap-style crash helmets clearly cannot be as effective in preventing head injuries as those which cover the ears and base of the skull.  The most protective, full-face helmets tend only to be worn by younger riders on fast, racing-style motorcycles. It’s an image thing (& a copyright image!).

The Forgotten Aspect: Motorcycle Helmets Save Huge Amounts of Money, not ‘Just’ Lives!

Whenever people argue that it is the right of a motorcyclist to accept additional risk of serious injuries or death, if they wish to do so, a key part of the argument is casually forgotten, and that is the often huge extra expense to everybody else if the worst happens.  It is now many years since the average cost, per body, of fatal road-crashes in the USA went above $1 million.  Indeed it is a well above a million dollars now.

Photo of two people on a motor scooter in Florida, quite legally but very inadvisably without crash helmets.
Two people on a motor scooter in Florida, quite legally but very inadvisably without crash helmets.

Continue reading “The Forgotten Aspect: Motorcycle Helmets Save Huge Amounts of Money, not ‘Just’ Lives!”

Tips for Sharing the Road with Greater Numbers of Motorcycles and Bicycles in Summer

The safety tips from cars.com, shown in the article linked below and apparently based on NHTSA guidelines aren’t bad but aren’t complete, either, so here are some missing but important bits of advice:

Sadly, from the point of view of conspicuity, this rider’s clothing was not as conspicuous from the front as it was from the rear! (And stopping beyond a stop line wasn’t wise, either.) Copyright image.

While bicyclists and pedestrians are advised by cars.com to wear conspicuous clothing, motorcyclists are not…. But they should be!  Riding with the headlight permanently on low beam, even in brilliant sunshine, is extremely helpful, too.  (Auxiliary driving lights can be used instead but don’t buy any that are excessively bright.  Bicyclists are also able to get flashing strobe lights and even the most powerful of those are literally painful to approaching drivers.  Dazzling oncoming drivers in daylight is an effective way to get them to stare at you, but such staring is called “target fixation” for a reason.  “Moths to a flame” and that sort of stuff!)

Another vital piece of advice for all two-wheel riders is that when not at a red light and making a left turn from a main road into a side street or driveway, and irrespective of whether you can keep moving or you have had to stop and wait, the very last thing you should do before starting the actual turn is a proper shoulder check, over your left shoulder.  In Britain, where this technique has been taught for decades to very good effect, this crucial last look is known as the “lifesaver,” and it’s your own life that we are talking about.  You are, of course, looking for a driver who is so unthinking that s/he hasn’t even noticed you and is either overtaking you at a highly inappropriate location or is heading for the same turn as you.  It happens!!!

Now on to the subject of car, SUV and pick-up truck drivers, etc.  The fact is simple:  Far, far too many motorcyclists are killed when other vehicles pull out of a side street in front of them.  Afterwards, the car drivers typically give the reason for the dead body nearby as either (a) “I just didn’t see him coming,” or (b) “He must have been coming really fast because when I first looked to that side [usually the left] he wasn’t even in sight!”  Both of these excuses are empty and untrue, no matter what the driver thinks.  The reality is that a narrow-profile vehicle such as a motorcycle does not trigger a driver’s senses the same as does a larger vehicle, and drivers often “Look but Do Not See!” (which is known to knowledgeable police officers, crash investigators, and paramedics as “LBDNS”).  The moral for drivers is simple:  You really MUST be particularly careful to look for approaching motorcycles at all intersections.  The riders’ lives are in your hands and if you get it wrong you may become a killer, no matter what excuse is given to the police.

The following video clip is from 1970s Britain when this lethal aspect of driving was first being addressed with nationwide television adverts (so yes, it looks incredibly dated, but the message is still perfectly true).

In addition, for drivers it is far easier to ‘lose’ a passing motorcycle in your rear left and rear right blind spots as you are starting to make a turn or a lane-change.  This is why it is crucial to make regular mirror checks every 4-8 seconds during all forward driving, AND to make a shoulder-check at the last moment before actually starting the turn or lane change.  (Remember that in slow-moving urban traffic, such as during rush hours, bicycles and mopeds may pass you in the right, too.)  This is one of the key reasons why NOT setting your door mirrors in the fashionable ‘wide’ position is best — ‘wide’ mirrors can easily cost a passing biker his/her life.

View the article Motorcycle, Bicycle Deaths Spike in Summer: Tips for Sharing the Road, from cars.com