October 10, 2006

AAA asks motorists and motorcyclists to support actions to reduce motorcycle fatalities

Orlando, Florida – The American Automobile Association (AAA) is urging motorists and motorcyclists to work together to help curtail the growing number of fatal crashes involving riders, and asks motorcyclists to do more to protect themselves.

“AAA wants all motorists to be aware that tremendous growth in the popularity of motorcycling has added millions of new motorcycles and riders to our roadways,” says AAA president Robert Darbelnet. “This means drivers need to be more aware than ever of how to share the road safely with motorcycles. And motorcyclists need to take every opportunity to increase their margin of traffic safety. If motorists will be more alert to motorcycles on the road and give them the time and room they need to safely manoeuvre in traffic, and motorcyclists will better protect themselves by wearing protective gear, clearly illuminating their rides, and looking into new technologies such as motorcycles equipped with airbags, the road can be safer for all of us.”

According to AAA, motorcycle registration in the U.S. has increased nearly 50 per cent in just under a decade; however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports a 115 per cent increase since 1997 in the number of fatal crashes involving motorcyclists. In 2005, 4,553 people were killed on motorcycles in the U.S., up 545 from 2004.

Promising new safety technologies include airbags, optional this year on some Honda Gold Wing models. In testing with a crash test dummy, the airbag was able to prevent a fatal injury in a 72-km/h head-on crash test. Without an airbag, the crash would have produced fatal or near-fatal injuries.

AAA also suggests that motorcyclists upgrade to a high-quality helmet; wear appropriate eye protection, footwear, gloves, and bright or reflective riding apparel; and use clearly-visible head, tail, turn and stop lamps, as well as additional side marker lamps for dim or dark riding conditions. Anyone new to motorcycling should enroll in a safety course and repeatedly practice in light traffic before riding in areas where they may be severe congestion, higher speeds, or complicated and frequent turns and lane changes.

Car and truck drivers need to be more vigilant in checking for oncoming motorcycles are they prepare to make turns, cross intersections or change lanes, and should give motorcycle riders plenty of room and respect their right to use the whole traffic lane. NHTSA recommends allowing a following distance of at least three to four seconds.

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