May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As the weather gets warmer and riders take to the streets, the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada is focusing their attention on driver’s who don’t. They’ve shared statistics that are startling, yet also likely won't come as a surprise for riders or motorists.
Texting is being touted as the new drinking and driving. One such study showed that nearly 80 percent of collisions involved some form of driver distraction. 80 percent! That means one and five collisions are completely avoidable. Even if a driver isn’t directly involved in a collision, another study found distracted drivers who aren’t actively engaged fail to see as much as half of the details within their environment, including other vehicles motorcycles, cyclists and pedestrians. Scarier still, three out of every four motorists surveyed admitted to driving distracted.
If the possibility of injury or death doesn’t appeal to your sense of humanity, consider the costs of driver distraction. According to the Government of Canada, the combined costs of health care and lost productivity related to traffic collisions are estimated to be at least $10 billion annually, or roughly one percent of Canada’s GDP. It could also hit you right in the pocketbook since every Canadian province and territory has now instituted a ban on using cellphones or hand-held electronic devices while driving which can result in hefty fines, and in many cases, demerit points.
So, what can be done? Healthy habits for drivers include being well rested and engaged, proactively avoiding things that will distract from the task at hand like texting, making phone calls or eating. Drivers can also leave riders extra space and be considerate that they require the whole lane to avoid hazards like oil, garbage or potholes. It sounds simple, but using your turn signal and checking mirrors can go a long way to increasing the safety of motorcyclists this riding season. Looking twice can save a life.
Motorcyclists should also do their part by donning proper safety gear and choosing not ride while exhausted or inebriated. They should also avoid blindspots, be courteous to drivers and follow the rules of the road.
Riders and drivers alike are encouraged to visit www.Motorcycling.ca to take the Motorcycle Safety Pledge and share on social channels using the hashtag #MotorcycleSafetyPledge in order to raise awareness and promote change.