Nevada has joined many other states in participating in Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month each May. This nationally sponsored program is designed to educate all drivers about techniques and practices that can lower the number of motorcycle accidents each year.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than half of the motorcycle crashes in 2009 involved at least one other vehicle, and data from the U.S. Census shows that bikers represented 15 percent of the accident fatalities that year. This disproportionate number of crashes and deaths demonstrates the need for everyone on the road to observe all safety procedures.

Motorists reduce risks by sharing the road

It is important for car drivers to take a proactive approach to the welfare of motorcycle riders because of their vulnerability on the road. The smaller size makes them easy to miss when motorists pull out into traffic, and they may seem to appear suddenly from behind other vehicles or a blind spot. The small size may also make it difficult to judge how far away they are, or how quickly they are approaching. It is always safer to assume that a motorcycle is closer than it appears.

When an automobile follows too closely, it creates a particularly hazardous situation. For example, rather than hitting the brakes, a motorcyclist may slow down by downshifting or letting off the throttle. The lack of brake lights does not give the motorist a visual cue to avoid the collision. In work zones or slippery road conditions, maneuverability is more difficult on two wheels, and this affects the ability to dodge out of the way or stop quickly. Increasing the following distance improves safety.

Proper gear and driving techniques improve safety

A motorcyclist can reduce hazards by wearing the proper gear to prevent a serious injury in the event of a crash. A Department of Transportation-approved helmet, protective gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and pants shield the most vulnerable areas of the body, while a bright shirt or jacket during the day and a reflective material at night makes the biker more visible. Changing lanes frequently is another strategy to improve visibility to other drivers and avoid debris on the road.

Any motorcyclist who is injured in an accident caused by a careless car driver can benefit from the advice of an attorney who can explain all the legal options available and ensure adequate compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering.