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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

From Staff Reports

The Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department will be partnering with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to promote motorcycle safety during the month of May.

May is nationally recognized as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Agencies participate by providing information and increasing awareness in their communities about the importance of sharing the road and looking twice for motorcyclists.

“Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather gets warmer, which is why it is the perfect time for us to remind the community about the vulnerability of motorcycle riders,” Sgt. Jerry Hughes, coordinator with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, said. “All motorists need to know how to anticipate and respond to motorcyclists to avoid crashes.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers general tips to drivers on preventing a crash with a motorcycle:

• Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.

• Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.

• If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful – motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.

• Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.

• Always allow more follow distance – three or four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives riders more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

Preliminary data reveals that in 2015, Tennessee experienced an increase in motorcycle fatalities. There was also an increase in the number of those killed who were not wearing a helmet. There were more than 2,800 crashes involving a motorcycle last year statewide.