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Governor Hogan Proclaims May Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Maryland

MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office Reminds Riders, Drivers to Share the Road During Essential Travel

Glen Burnie, Md. (May 11, 2020) – Each year about 70 people die in motorcycle crashes in Maryland, with many of these fatalities occurring between May and September. To raise awareness and educate all travelers about motorcycle safety, Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. While traffic is lighter as people telework and limit travel during COVID-19 health emergency, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office and its partners are reminding riders and drivers that it remains critical to obey speed limits, be alert and Share the Road.

“Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is an important time to remind drivers and riders that we all have a responsibility to share the road and ensure everyone gets to their destination safely,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who serves as Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We can achieve zero fatalities if we work together by paying attention, driving and riding sober, and following the speed limits.”

The Highway Safety Office, a unit of MDOT MVA dedicated to saving lives and reducing crashes through education and awareness, is stressing the importance of caution and adherence to speed limits even when fewer vehicles are on the road. From January through April, crashes in Maryland involving motorcycles have declined 10.6% – 214 compared to 238 for the same period in 2019 – even though overall vehicle traffic is down about 45% during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

According to MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office, failure to control speed and impaired riding are often factors in fatal motorcycle crashes. In many cases drivers of other vehicles contribute to fatal motorcycle crashes due to inattentiveness, impairment or failing to yield to motorcyclists’ right of way.

As part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office recommends these steps to be safe on Maryland roadways.

Tips for Drivers:

· Look twice before changing lanes or merging into traffic. Use your mirrors and look over your shoulder to be sure it is safe before merging or changing lanes.

· Yield the right-of-way to an oncoming motorcycle when turning left. Violating a motorcyclist’s right of way can result in three points and a $1,000 fine if you cause a serious injury.

· Give plenty of space. Traffic, weather and road conditions require motorcyclists to react and maneuver differently. All drivers should allow enough room for motorcyclists to maneuver and enough time for themselves to adjust if needed.

· Use care when driving near a group of motorcyclists. Motorcyclists often participate in organized rides involving many riders. Sharing the road with these groups calls for patience and communication. If a driver needs to change lanes or reach an exit, they should signal the intention early and wait for riders in the motorcycle group to create a gap. Do not merge in between groups or riders unless there is enough space to do so safely.

Tips for Motorcyclists:

· Gear up before you roll out. Wearing properly-fitting motorcycle-specific protective clothing can prevent serious injury in a crash. Over-the-ankle boots, gloves, a protective jacket and pants and a properly-fitted helmet with face shield or protective eyewear are all part of a full gear package. Choose riding gear that increases visibility in traffic in addition to providing protection in the event of a crash. Use bright colors and retro-reflective strips or decals, especially at night.

· Ride so you are seen. There is no one safe place to ride within a lane. Use lane positioning to be seen. Ride with your headlight on.

· Give yourself space and time to react. Allow space for emergency braking and for avoiding a crash. Make lane moves gradually and expect the unexpected.

· Ride Sober. Motorcycle riding and alcohol don’t mix. Drinking slows your reaction time, affects your balance, coordination and vision, which can increase your risk of crashing.

· Signal your intentions. Always signal before changing lanes. Avoid weaving between lanes. Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.

The MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office also reminds homeowners and businesses to clear grass clippings and yard debris from the roadway. Grass clippings can be like ice to a motorcycle, and simply clearing them from a roadway could save a life or prevent a crash with serious injury.

The governor’s proclamation honors the late Gary “Pappy” Boward for his contributions to motorcyclist safety. Through his years of involvement with the motorcycle advocacy group, ABATE of Maryland Inc., Mr. Boward built relationships with many organizations and state agencies to promote motorcyclists’ rights with the understanding that educated riders are safer riders. A resident of Clear Spring, he passed away last month at age 70.

MDOT MVA and other agencies will spread targeted safety messages to the public through social media. Learn more about the MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office’s commitment to Zero Deaths on Maryland roadways at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at zerodeathsmd.