While you love riding your motorcycle, these vehicles, by their very nature, can be dangerous. If you are in an accident on your bike, you have little protection from injury.

Maryland records about 70 motorcycle fatalities and 1,400 injuries every year. Safety is the responsibility of both motorcyclists and your fellow motorists.

A motorcyclist’s role in safety

The first step toward protecting yourself is taking a basic rider training course. Just because you have a license does not mean you are a safe driver.

When riding, give yourself enough room in traffic to react to dangerous situations. Position yourself away from the “blind spots” of other motorists so they can see you.

Obvious tips include driving sober, obeying speed limits and avoiding aggressive driving. Motorcyclists also can protect themselves by:

  • Driving with their headlights on
  • Signaling all turns and lane changes
  • Approaching intersections with extra caution

Because accidents do happen, protect yourself by wearing a helmet. Failure to wear a helmet is dangerous and illegal; violators face fines of up to $500. Also wear protective clothing and other safety equipment.

A motorist’s role in safety

A common refrain of drivers involved in motorcycle crashes is that they did not see the motorcyclist until it was too late. When you are driving a car or a larger vehicle, you must maintain constant awareness of your surroundings. Check your blind spots before changing lanes and making turns.

In general, give motorcyclists plenty of spare room. This is especially true when driving near a group of motorcyclists.

Motorists often forget motorcycles have the same rights and privileges as other vehicles on the road. Cars and trucks, for example, must yield the right-of-way to oncoming motorcycles when turning left.

Share the road and share responsibility

Sharing the road means operating a vehicle in a safe manner for both yourself and others. As either a motorcyclist or a driver, you can achieve this by looking out for one another.

In many ways, sitting behind the handlebars is the same as sitting behind the wheel. You have the same moral and legal obligation to protect yourself and others.