Safe Commuting Starts with You

By Joy White

NTSB Investigator Doug Brazy is covered head to toe in his safety gear before heading home on his motorcycle.
NTSB Investigator Doug Brazy is covered head to toe in his safety gear before heading home on his motorcycle.

As the NTSB continues to feature Drive Safely Work Week on our blog, today I want to discuss motorcycle safety. A number of NTSB employees ride their motorcycles both to work and recreationally. And both my brothers are avid riders. As any rider in the DC area will tell you, it’s no picnic doing so in traffic and can be downright dangerous at times.

Ten years ago, 3,714 riders died in a motorcycle crash; 42,884 people were killed on the highways. In 2012, the number of riders killed had risen to almost 5,000 while overall highway deaths had declined to 33,561. A number of factors can lead to crashes, injuries, and deaths, but many are preventable.

On September 25, Acting Chairman Christopher Hart and NTSB Director of Highway Safety Donald Karol presented at the 2014 National Association of State Motorcycle Safety Administrators Symposium, “Working Cooperatively to Implement Motorcycle Safety Countermeasures”. One point emphasized at this event was that more and more people are purchasing motorcycles without the proper training and not protecting themselves with the proper safety equipment. Even riders who have been on the road for some time are not refreshing their training to enhance their skills.

Motorcycles, by their nature, afford riders less protection than any other motor vehicle. Therefore, it is imperative that riders take steps to prevent crashes and strengthen occupant protection in the event of a crash. For example, a bike is no place to be impaired or distracted. And the number one way a rider can improve his or her chances of surviving a crash is to use an effective helmet. Drivers also have a role to play. When I’m on the road in my car, I’m literally my brothers’ keeper and have an obligation to perform at my best. Driving while distracted is a definite “no no” and will prevent you from seeing the rider in the lane next to you.

Because the NTSB cannot make changes or require them to be made, we depend on collaboration to improve transportation safety. That collaboration includes the individual – riders who take appropriate safety precautions and drivers being respectful by sharing the rode. In the end, safety starts at home. By adopting good habits on the bike and in the car, we can make the ride to work a safe one!

Joy White is an Information Specialist with NTSB

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