‘Share the road’: WisDOT highlights motorcycle safety

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is reminding drivers and motorcyclists to share the road and stay alert to reduce injuries and fatalities.

“Summer has arrived, bringing motorcycles onto Wisconsin’s roadways,” a release from WisDOT said. “It is the responsibility of all road users to prioritize safety. Following safe driving and riding practices is crucial to prevent crashes on our roads.”

In the past five years, there have been roughly 2,000 motorcycle crashes per year in Wisconsin, resulting in an average of 1,700 injuries and 100 fatalities per year, according to WisDOT.

“Motorcycle riders are at higher risk of being hurt or killed in a crash,” said State Patrol Superintendent Tim Carnahan. “There are simple steps both riders and drivers can take to keep everyone safe on our roads.”

Motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a crash than other motorists and four times more likely to be injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Driving near motorcycles

WisDOT said motorcycles are smaller than the average vehicle, so they can be harder to see on the roads, and it’s easy to misjudge their speed and distance.

“Drivers are asked to use caution when traveling near motorcycles,” WisDOT stated, noting that drivers are encouraged to take the following steps:

  • Look twice for motorcycles. Many crashes happen when drivers pull out from a stop sign, turn left or change lanes.
  • Keep a safe following distance from a motorcycle. They have a shorter stopping distance so if a motorcycle needs to stop suddenly, you need more room to avoid a collision.

Riding safely

“Sharing the road is a two-way street, so motorcyclists need to do their part to be visible and follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles,” WisDOT said. “Safe riding practices help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the roads.”

WisDOT said riders should consider the following:

  • Ride defensively and don’t take risks.
  • Scan the road ahead carefully, especially on curves, looking for gravel and sand.
  • Do not share a lane with another vehicle; staggered riding is suggested for multiple motorcycles.
  • Protective, high-visibility clothing and safety gear is recommended.
  • State law requires headlamps to be on at all times.
  • Helmets are strongly encouraged for all riders and required by state law for those under 18.

Safe practices for all road users

WisDOT said the following are safe driving and riding practices that all road users – vehicle drivers and motorcyclists alike – should follow to help keep our roadways safe:

  • Observe all traffic laws and obey speed limits.
  • Share the road. According to state law, all vehicles, including motorcycles, are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane, and no vehicle may deprive another of a lane.
  • Drive sober.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Put your phone down.
  • Training and education.

“Training and education are key to preventing motorcycle crashes and injuries,” WisDOT stated. “According to state law, you must be properly licensed with a Class M license or Class M Instruction Permit to legally operate a motorcycle on Wisconsin roads.” 

WisDOT’s partners provide rider courses (www.tinyurl.com/yv9zp7f3) to help motorcyclists earn their motorcycle license and improve rider skills.

Those who are passionate about riding and want to teach others about motorcycle safety and how to ride can learn about becoming a rider coach at www.tinyurl.com/3wcek86h.

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