Warmer weather leads to more motorcyclists on roadways

TRI-CITES, Wash. — As the weather warms up and spring rolls around, there are a lot more motorcycles on the road.

“We have a shared responsibility on the road,” said Dusty Powers, an instructor at Motorcycle Training in Richland. “As motorcyclists, we need to be aware that other people are going to make mistakes, that other people are going to be distracted, and that we need to take responsibility for our own safety.”

For motorcyclists, there are a few things that you can do to keep yourself safe while driving on the road. First, wear bright colors, and make sure you’re easily seen.

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Next, wear a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet, as required by state law. Just last week, the Kennewick Police Department reported a motorcyclist that was involved in DUI collision who was not wearing a helmet.

“Sometimes we blend into the background and drivers don’t see us,” Powers said. “Especially if we’re coming right towards them, they really don’t get a sense of our speed. So wear protective gear.”

Both motorcyclists and drivers can be aware that motorcycle blinkers work a bit differently.

“A lot of times [motorcycle blinkers] don’t self-cancel,” Powers said. “Wait for that motorcyclist, if they’re signaling a turn, wait for them to commit to that turn before you pull out in front of them.”

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Drivers of cars can take extra steps to keep motorcyclists safe by turning their heads before merging and making sure that there isn’t a motorcyclist in their blind spot.

“Use your mirrors, and do that quick little head check before you make that lane change,” Powers said. “It’s important for motorcyclists not to hang out in that blind spot and spend as little time as necessary there while you’re passing that car.”

While overall driving was lower in 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a total of 5,579 motorcyclists killed in traffic collisions—an 11% increase since 2019.

“Motorcycling is a voluntary sport, it’s something that we choose to do. And when we choose to ride a motorcycle, we not only choose for ourselves, we choose for our friends, our family, our kids, our spouses,” Powers said. “Take the time to be the best [motorcyclist] that you can be, and ride within that skill level all the time.”

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