Motorcyclists also can make safe driving a habit.

Imagine you’re driving home from work.

After a long day, the last thing you want is to be stuck in traffic. But instead of driving 55 mph, traffic slows you down to 40.

Your phone vibrates. You just received a text message. You wonder if you should look at it. You know you shouldn’t be texting and driving, but a glance can’t hurt, right? There’s enough distance between you and the car in front of you. It’s harmless, you say to yourself as you start to slow down. You look at your phone and read the message.

“K”

As you look up, you immediately slam your brakes. A motorcycle is right in front of you.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle deaths occur 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles. In 2013, 4,692 fatal motorcycle accidents were reported nationally and 164 fatal accidents in New York.

To date, Canandaigua Emergency Squad has responded to 65 motor vehicle accidents in 2017. Of the 65, nearly 10 involved a motorcycle. Although there are many reasons why motorcycle accidents occur, many happen because drivers fail to see the motorcycle.

The top reason why motorcycle accidents occur is because other vehicle drivers are not 100 percent focused on the road. “I took my eyes off the road for only a second,” is a common answer after most motor vehicle collisions.

The following tips can protect you and others from accidents and boost awareness.

As a driver, be aware that motorcyclists have the same rights you do. Allow them their whole lane. Even though the vehicles are smaller, never underestimate their speed and distance. Pay attention to your blind spots and continuously check mirrors and windows before changing lanes. Also, always use your turn signal.

As a motorcyclist, there are a few things to keep in mind as you are riding. On the road, develop a sixth sense. Anticipate others’ actions and be aware of your surroundings. Know where a car’s blind spots are and try to avoid them. If you can see the driver’s eyes, they can see yours. Drivers sometimes forget to turn on their blinker when switching lanes, so pay attention to the direction of their wheels. Obey speed limits and ride at an appropriate speed for the weather conditions of the road.

All drivers need to make sure they are abiding by the law, regardless of how many wheels are on their vehicles. Wearing seat belts, not texting and driving, and being responsible with substances are essential to both car and motorcycle safety. The responsibility of all drivers is to be aware and alert on the road. Together, we can work to promote safe driving and increase awareness of motorcyclists’ presence.

For more information, go to www.nhtsa.gov.

About this series

Canandaigua Emergency Squad, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit unit that receives no tax-based support, responds to more than 5,000 calls per year in Ontario County and partners with the East Bloomfield Volunteer Ambulance. For more information, go to canandaiguaes.org. If you have questions or want to get involved, send emails to info@canandaigues.org.