AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding drivers to use extra caution around motorcycles on roads and highways in conjunction with Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month, which occurs annually in May.
“Whether you’re in a car or on a motorcycle, it is important to always drive safely and follow all traffic laws,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “By also following some simple but important safety tips, both vehicle drivers and motorcyclists can share the road, increase overall safety and prevent traffic crashes.”
DPS recommends that all drivers “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles,” which is a motorcycle safety public awareness campaign launched by our partner agency, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
Based on the fact that motorcycles and their operators are more exposed and can easily be overlooked due to their size, motorcyclists are inherently more vulnerable while on the road. According to TxDOT, 501 motorcyclists were killed and more than 2,100 seriously injured in Texas crashes in 2017. In many cases, these fatalities were the result of crashes between a motorcycle and a car or truck. Collisions with a motorcycle commonly occur at intersections and while changing lanes, so all drivers should use extra caution during these situations.
Drivers and motorcyclists can significantly reduce their chances of being involved in a serious or fatal crash by adhering to basic safety measures, including:
- Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
- Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when traveling behind a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
- Wear protective gear when driving or riding on a motorcycle.
- Never drive while distracted.
- Don’t drink and drive when operating a motorcycle, or any vehicle.
Motorcyclists must be properly licensed to operate a motorcycle in the State of Texas. Currently more than 1.1 million individuals possess a Texas Class M (motorcycle) license. Proof of successful completion of a DPS-approved basic or intermediate motorcycle operator training course is required for licensing. Licensed motorcyclists can also take a refresher course to reinforce safe riding techniques. Each year the DPS Motorcycle Safety Unit trains approximately 35,000 motorcycle operators.
The Motorcycle Safety Unit coordinates training courses at 202 locations around the state for both basic and experienced riders. For more information on motorcycle training or to find a training location in your area, call 1-800-292-5787 or visit www.dps.texas.gov/msb/.