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Keeping Motorcyclists Safe on Wisconsin Roads

cycle on open road

MADISON, WI (June 11, 2014) – With the warm summer weather, motorcyclists are hitting Wisconsin roads. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, “over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the car or truck driver, not the motorcyclist, is at fault.”

Since a motorcycle has a narrow profile, it can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or masked by outdoor objects. “The size and weight of cars and trucks put the obligation on these drivers to use added safety measures,” says Ron Von Haden, CIC, Executive Vice President of the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin (PIAW). “Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes, pulling out of a driveway or turning at intersections.”

Following are more tips to ensure everyone on the road is safe.

  • A motorcycle often looks farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into or out of a driveway, assume a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
  • Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, which will not activate the brake light. Allow more following distance for motorcycles, say 3 or 4 seconds. And, at intersections, understand a motorcyclist may slow down without the brake lights on.
  • Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement can make stopping quickly on only two wheels difficult. Again, allow for more following distance behind a motorcycle.
  • Motorcyclists often move position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the impact of road debris, passing vehicles and wind. “Motorcyclists adjust lane positions for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off,” explains Von Haden.
  • Respect motorcycles and treat them the same as other vehicles … for example, allowing the same amount of room on the road.

“The most important rule is to see more than the motorcycle – see the person on the bike who could be your friend, neighbor or relative. This is especially important for young drivers who may be sharing the road with motorcycles for the first time,” notes Von Haden.

Should you become involved in an accident with a motorcycle or any vehicle, follow these steps.

  • Check for injuries; call an ambulance when in doubt.
  • If the accident is minor, move cars to a safe place, out of traffic.
  • Make immediate notes about the accident, including specific damages, witness information and take photos with your cell phone. Trade insurance information with the other driver.
  • Call the police, even if the accident is minor. If they do not show up on the scene, go to the nearest police department to file a police report yourself. It can be important to have this document for any claims.
  • Notify your insurance agent immediately. Your local, independent and professional insurance agent can advise you about the next steps you need to take to quickly and fairly process the claim.

“Drive aware of motorcyclists and you can help make the streets and roads safer for everyone,” concludes Von Haden.

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