From left to right, Administrator Chrissy Nizer, Senator Michael McKay, Director Rick Barlup, ABATE of Maryland, Washington County Chapter, President John Barr, Washington County Commissioners, Delegate William Wivell, Sheriff Brian K. Albert, Washington County Sheriff's Office
GLEN BURNIE, MD (May 9, 2023) – The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration today joined motorcycle advocacy organization ABATE of Maryland Inc. and other community partners to kick off Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to encourage drivers and riders to share the road by remaining alert and driving responsibly. Governor Wes Moore has proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Maryland to help promote awareness and safety.
At an event at the administration’s Hagerstown branch, officials also announced the return of the FAST TRACK program at select branches to boost the number of licensed motorcyclists in the state. FAST TRACK is an expedited process for motorcycle licensing in Maryland that allows customers to take both the knowledge test for the Class M learner’s permit and the riding test on the same day.
“Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is an important time to remind drivers and riders that motorcycle crashes are preventable if we all responsibly share the road,” said Chrissy Nizer, Motor Vehicle Administrator and Governor Moore’s Highway Safety Representative. “Part of that responsibility is remaining alert, looking twice for motorcyclists and continuing education on safe driving and riding behaviors.”
“The leaders of the motorcycle community in Maryland, including ABATE of Maryland Inc., the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration and State Highway Administration, Maryland motorcycle safety training centers and others are committed to increasing the safe operation of motorcycles by promoting motorcycle safety programs, providing motorcycle safety instruction during motorcycle chapter meetings and events, and by enjoining the state’s entire motorcycling community to comprehensively address and set a motorcycle safety agenda for Maryland and Maryland’s motorcycle leadership,” said Ken Eaton, Executive Director for ABATE of Maryland Inc.
Warmer weather marks the unofficial start of the riding season for motorcyclists. In Maryland, approximately 80% of motorcycle-related fatalities occur from May through October, and about 60% of motorcycle-involved crashes occur between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. More than half (59%) of those crashes occur Friday through Sunday. Since 2016, more than 500 motorcyclists have been killed on Maryland roadways.
Motorcycle Safety Month is a time to remind all those who share the road to practice safe habits. The Motor Vehicle Administration is encouraging drivers and riders to share the road and help protect one another by using the following tips:
- Share the road with motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are entitled to use the full travel lane, so give them space and don’t cut them off.
- Look twice for motorcycles. When there is a crash involving a car and a motorcycle, the driver of the motor vehicle is at fault more than half of the time. Signal your intentions and always check two or more times before making left turns, merging, changing lanes or pulling into traffic.
- Remember that motorcyclists are smaller than cars. Drivers tend to look for other cars and trucks, not for motorcyclists. Since a rider and their motorcycle are smaller than a car, they are often difficult to see.
- Minimize and check your blind spots. Motorcycles are easily hidden from view in a driver’s blind spot. Check your mirrors regularly when driving and adjust them to show more of the road and less of your vehicle.
For Motorcycle Riders:
- Be courteous, non-aggressive and respectful of other road users when riding.
- Make yourself visible at all times. Choose riding gear that increases your 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 “safest” place to ride in terms of visibility. Use lane positioning to be seen by drivers. Ride with your headlight on and consider using a modulating headlight.
- Give yourself space and time to react. Allow space for braking or for avoiding a crash.
- Signal your intentions. Signal before changing lanes. Avoid weaving between lanes. Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping. Make your lane changes gradually.
- Learn early, learn often. Motorcycle safety training courses have much to offer new, experienced and returning riders. Keep your skills sharp by regularly participating in motorcycle skills training courses.
The FAST TRACK program is only available at select Motor Vehicle Administration branches on the dates listed below. Marylanders interested in participating in the program can get more information and sign up for an appointment here.
- Hagerstown – Wednesday, May 31
- Frederick – Thursday, June 1
- Glen Burnie – Wednesday, July 12
- Annapolis – Thursday, August 10
- Salisbury – Friday, September 8
- Bel Air – Tuesday, September 19
The Motor Vehicle Administration remains committed to offering training courses for new and experienced riders that emphasize skills and concentration necessary to operate a motorcycle. MDOT MVA provides a list of training centers where riders can ensure they have the skills and mental strategies for responsible motorcycle operation.
The administration’s Highway Safety Office also will share “Be the LOOK TWICE Driver” messaging throughout May, depicting how a driver can easily see a motorcyclists one second, and how quick that motorcycle can disappear from view in a blind spot. Public service advertisements will run on Facebook, billboards and buses across the state.
Learn more about MVA’s Highway Safety Office’s commitment to zero deaths on Maryland roadways at ZeroDeathsMD.gov and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at zerodeathsmd.gov.