Tips to avoid summer accidents

Living in Erie, Pennsylvania; where it seems more months out of the year, our landscape is covered in white than it's covered in green, we have to remind ourselves, as motorists, to be alert for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle riders during the warmer months.

I think we all agree that our city has seen too many motor vehicles strike people who are walking, bicycling, and riding and it's only mid-June.  Also, with Roar on the Shore approaching, it seems like a good time to post some safety tips to look out for riders and pedestrians this season.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, a national, not-for-profit organization has 10 things we should know about looking out for riders this summer season from their website.  Please take note that these are good tips for spotting pedestrians, as well:
 
1.  Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don't "recognize" a motorcycle - they ignore it (usually unintentionally).  
 
2.  Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car's blind spots (door/roof pillars) or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc). Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you're changing lanes or turning at intersections.
 
3.  Also because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle's speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or in to (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
 
4.  Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say 3 or 4 seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
 
5.  Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
 
6.  Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. Make sure a motorcycle's signal is for real.
 
7.  Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle's better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don't expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.
 
8.  Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because you can't always stop "on a dime."
 
9.  When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle - see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor, or relative.
 
10. If a driver crashes into a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian and causes serious injury, the driver would likely never forgive himself/herself.
 
Please, drivers, stay off smart phones and other electronic devices.  Connect bluetooth-enabled devices if you absolutely need to contact someone while driving.  Ellen Degeneres once said about driving and talking on cell phones, "chances are, if you need both of your hands [and your feet] to do something; your brain should probably be in on it too."
 
Also, pedestrians, please pay attention.  Keep your head up and not in your phone so you are prepared in case someone doesn't see you.  Drivers can have medical emergencies and lose control of their vehicles at any point so it is important to survey your surroundings and keep yourself safe, as well.
 
And, to everyone, watch out for those little ones!  Let's keep each other safe this summer.  

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