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Be cautious around motorcyclists


Law enforcement personnel with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) remind drivers on Texas roadways to use extra caution around motorcycles as part of May's Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.

"Because of size and visibility, motorcyclists face unique challenges on the road that make them more vulnerable," said DPS Director Steven McCraw. "We encourage all drivers - whether on two wheels or four - to actively watch out for each other and obey traffic laws. Motorcyclists can further protect themselves by wearing helmets; and other drivers can help by looking twice and giving extra space to motorcyclists."

Currently, more than 440,000 motorcycles and mopeds are registered in Texas, and that number is expected to grow.

DPS recommends all drivers "Share the Road" and "Look Twice" for motorcycles, which are Texas Department of Transportation public awareness campaigns that highlight motorcycle safety. Motorists should use caution, especially at intersections and when changing lanes - two common places where serious motorcycle collisions occur. Half of all fatal motorcycle crashes in Texas occur because a car or truck driver never saw the motorcyclist.

In 2012, 460 people in Texas died in motorcycle crashes - down from the 488 motorcyclists who died in 2011. However, those deaths accounted for approximately 13 percent of all traffic deaths in the state last year, and 89 percent of motorcycle crashes in Texas result in death or injury.

In addition to the annual awareness campaign, May 2013 also marks the 30th anniversary of the DPS Motorcycle Safety Unit. The unit coordinates training courses at more than 200 locations around the state for both basic and experienced riders. Motorcyclists must be properly licensed to operate a motorcycle in the State of Texas. For more information on motorcycle training or to find a training location in a specific area, call 1-800-292-5787 or visit www.dps.texas.gov/msb.

Drivers and motorcyclists can significantly reduce their chances of being involved in a serious or fatal crash by adhering to basic safety measures, including:

• Always allowing a motorcyclist the full lane width - never try to share a lane.

• Performing a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.

• Always signaling before changing lanes or merging with traffic.

• Allowing more following distance - three or four seconds - when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

• Never tailgating. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

• Never driving while distracted.