IRVINE, Calif., May 07, 2008 - Spring marks the traditional start of the riding season and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is encouraging motorcyclists to take an active role during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to help reduce the growing number of traffic collisions involving motorcycles.
MSF asks riders to consider any or all of the following three approaches to educating themselves and other roadway users:
1. Become a better rider. Taking refresher riding courses refines motorcyclists' skills and reinforces their strategies. Whether selecting the MSF's Basic or Experienced RiderCourseSM or another provider's advanced courses or track schools, training is available for riders of every skill level.
For motorcyclists, the MSF has five critical messages:
Get Trained and Licensed - Take an MSF RiderCourseSM and obtain the appropriate rider's license from your state.
Wear Protective Gear - Wear proper protective riding gear, most importantly a helmet made to Department of Transportation standards.
Don't Drink and Ride - Ride unimpaired; never drink or use other drugs before getting on a motorcycle.
Ride Within Your Limits - Stay within your personal limits, never ride faster or farther than your abilities can handle.
Be a Lifelong Learner - Return regularly for refresher riding courses.
2. Spread safety messages. Motorcyclists who volunteer their time to talk with high school driver education classes in their community provide a much-needed service. Novice car drivers need to hear first-hand that careless or impaired driving threatens the safety of motorcyclists and other vulnerable roadway users. Presenters may wish to incorporate MSF Host-An-Event modules into their presentations: the "Intersection" kit, featuring a dramatic short film that examines a car/bike crash from the perspective of every one of the motorists involved; or the "Riding Straight" module, which includes interactive Fatal Vision® simulator goggles that give participants a realistic feeling of alcohol impairment and its harmful effects on even the simplest of tasks.
3. Share the experience (the MSF "First Ride" initiative): The Motorcycle Safety Foundation understands that not everyone wants to be -- or even should be -- a motorcyclist. However, non-motorcyclists can get a sense of the magic of motorcycling as well as an appreciation for the challenges and vulnerabilities of safely navigating on two wheels by being a passenger on a motorcycle piloted by an experienced rider. Therefore, MSF suggests that experienced motorcyclists who are comfortable carrying a passenger take someone on their first ride during the month of May. Riders can give a friend, relative, co-worker, or neighbor a brief, gentle ride in a non-traffic environment. (Of course, both the operator and passenger should wear full safety gear, including a DOT-compliant helmet.) Those who get a taste of motorcycling may come away with an enhanced awareness of motorcycles while driving their cars. This is critically important, since in a typical car versus motorcycle crash, the car driver violated the motorcyclist's right-of-way.
After the ride, motorcyclists can impress upon their passengers the need to remember that experience -- especially the feeling of being exposed to the elements and other traffic -- when they get back in their car.
As is always the case, the MSF will: make expert safety spokespersons available for interviews; post newswire releases; seed and facilitate coverage with print, broadcast and online media; host rider training demos for media; and post information on its website (www.msf-usa.org) and that of Discover Today's Motorcycling (www.motorcycles.org).
The MSF staff is also asking news media across America to remember that cycle safety is of critical importance and to help spread important messages to all kinds of motorists, including the following messages MSF developed for car drivers and other motorists:
Please Look for Motorcyclists - Use your eyes and mirrors to see what's around.
Focus on Driving - Hang up and drive, put down the food, the pet, the personal grooming gear, the CD, and the reading material and save it for later.
Use Your Turn Signals - Signal your intentions. It's also the law.
Give Two-Wheelers Some Room - Don't tailgate or get too close side-by-side.
Keep it in the Car - Don't throw trash and cigarettes out the window, and securely lash down cargo that can fall out on the road and be a deadly hazard.
"Improving the safety of our nation's 16 million motorcyclists involves not only the riders' awareness of risk factors and taking appropriate precautionary measures," said MSF President Tim Buche, "but it's also incumbent on car and truck drivers to be on the lookout for motorcycles and share the road responsibly. Especially now that riding season is in full swing."
Since 1973, the MSF has set internationally recognized standards that promote the safety of motorcyclists with rider education courses, operator licensing tests, and public information programs. The MSF works with the federal government, state agencies, the military and others to offer training for all skill levels so riders may enjoy a lifetime of safe, responsible motorcycling. The MSF is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by BMW, BRP, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.