Help keep bikers safe

Published 4:00 pm Saturday, July 21, 2018

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Summer is a great time for all kinds of folks to travel, go new places or just enjoy the drive.

Unfortunately, however, summer is also a deadly time on the roads, especially for motorcyclists.

According to AAA, almost 40 percent of fatalities involving motorcycles in 2016 and 2017 occurred during the summer months. So far in 2018, 29 percent of the fatalities involving motorcycles have happened in June and July — and July isn’t even over yet.

Many of these fatalities have happened right here in Hampton Roads. In an effort to put a stop to this negative trend, we’re reminding our readers about the following tips from AAA to help make the road safer for motorcyclists and, because many motorcycle fatalities are caused by aggressive driving, how to avoid road rage.

  • Be extra cautious on weekends, when more motorcyclists take to the road.
  • Provide motorcyclists adequate room to maneuver. Follow at least five to six seconds behind them.
  • Allow extra maneuvering room in areas with potholes, pavement transitions and railroad crossings. Motorcyclists may need to slow down, stop or adjust their lane position.
  • Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Motorcycles have the same right to lanes as any other vehicle.
  • If a motorcycle is nearby, check your mirrors carefully before changing lanes. Motorcycles may be in your blind spots or difficult to see because of their smaller size.
  • A few tips to avoid road rage include:
  • Manage your behavior, manage your responses. You may see other drivers doing things that are illegal, inconsiderate and even incomprehensible. Don’t take it personally. Most drivers are not thinking about their impact on you; they are just rushed, distracted or upset.
  • Follow the rules of the road. Maintain adequate following distance. Use turn signals. Allow others to merge. Use your high beams responsibly.
  • Remaining calm and courteous behind the wheel lowers your risk of an unpleasant encounter with another driver and with law enforcement.
  • Avoid eye contact with angry drivers. Don’t respond to aggression with aggression.
  • If you feel you are at risk, drive to a public place such as a police station, hospital or fire station.
  • When you park, allow room so you can pull out safely if someone approaches you aggressively.
  • Use your horn to attract attention but remain in your locked vehicle.
  • If you feel threatened, call 911.