May has been designated as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and in recognition of this public safety effort, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Division is focused on educating the public about the importance of safe driving habits and enforcement of applicable traffic laws.
Each year, law enforcement and public safety organizations all over the United States use the month of May to discuss the importance of motorcycle and vehicle safety, the importance of proper safety gear for motorcyclists, and “Looking Twice” for motorcycles.
“Now that warm weather is upon us, there will be more motorcycles on our roadways and that means that everyone needs to be more vigilant,” stated Sheriff Jim Hammond. “It is always important to Look Twice and Arrive Alive,” he further noted.
Last year, 2,670 motorcycles were involved in crashes throughout the state of Tennessee. Of those crashes, 151 fatalities occurred. Closer to home in Hamilton County, in 2020, the HCSO responded to (26) motorcycle accidents in the unincorporated areas of Hamilton County. Of those crashes, (20) resulted in injuries. In 2021 (YTD), HCSO has responded to (11) motorcycle accidents in the unincorporated areas of Hamilton County. Of those crashes, (6) resulted in injuries.
“As a former police motor officer, I understand the dangers and risks that can quickly affect both motorists and motorcyclists. All too often, we take for granted how fast an accident can occur. If we are all vigilant and respectful to other drivers when we are on the roadway, we can all do our part to keep Hamilton County’s roadways safe,” stated Chief Deputy Austin Garrett.
Please join with us and help prevent motorcycle accidents. Remember to Look Twice and Save a Life!
Below you will find some safety tips provided by the HCSO Traffic Division to help encourage safe driving behaviors for both motorists and motorcyclists.
Tips for Motorists
Because vehicle drivers control a much larger machine, it is imperative that they keep close watch for motorcyclists who may be riding nearby. Drivers may follow these tips to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle:
- Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has the same rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
- Always use a turn signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and the motorcyclist could have forgotten to turn it off. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
- Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
- Always allow more follow distance — three to four seconds — when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Never drive distracted or impaired.
Tips for Motorcyclists
At the same time, motorcyclists must take extra precautions to guard against drivers who may not see them. Motorcyclists may follow these tips to prevent a fatal crash with a vehicle:
- New riders should always take a DOT approved training course
- Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
- Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
- Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
- Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
- Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
- Never ride distracted or impaired.