PennDOT Recognizes Motorcycle Safety Month

HARRISBURG – May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and with summer just around the corner, PennDOT is reminding motorists and motorcyclists to share the road by curbing aggressive driving and operating vehicles in accordance with common sense, courtesy and the law.

“Sharing the road is essential for operators of all types of vehicles and drivers need to always recognize the importance of safety and cooperation on our roadways,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. “Motorcycle use is increasing across the commonwealth and motorists and motorcyclists have the responsibility to watch for, and respect, one another, while following Pennsylvania law.”

According to PennDOT, nearly 3,900 crashes involving motorcycles occurred on Pennsylvania’s roads in 2006, resulting in 187 motorcycle fatalities. Just over half of these crashes involved a motorcycle and another vehicle and more than half of these crashes were caused by the driver of the other vehicle. The most common cause of crash was the motorist making an improper or careless turning maneuver.

To improve safety, PennDOT recommends the following safe driving tips:

• Respect a motorcycle as a full-size vehicle and remember the motorcyclist has the same privileges as any motorist on the roadway.
• Look out for motorcyclists – be aware that motorcycles are small and difficult to see.
• Always check mirrors and blind spots at intersections or before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
• Always allow a motorcyclist the full-lane width – never try to share a lane.
• Keep your distance and allow extra space between vehicles.
• Always signal intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
• Remember, road conditions that are minor annoyances to motorists pose major hazards to motorcyclists.

• Become familiar with the motorcycle and conduct a pre-ride check to identify any problem that could jeopardize safety.
• Be safe. Wear the right gear, including DOT-approved protective headgear; face or eye protection; and protective, brightly colored clothing – including over the ankle foot protection, long pants, long sleeved shirt and full-fingered gloves.
• Be prepared. Practice riding techniques and learn how to handle the motorcycle in all types of road and weather conditions.
• Take a PennDOT-approved motorcycle safety course.

Pennsylvania law mandates the use of eye-protective devices for all motorcyclists unless operating a motorized pedalcycle or a three-wheeled motorcycle equipped with an enclosed cab. The law also mandates the use of protective headgear unless the motorcyclist is 21 years of age and has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for not less than two full calendar years or has successfully completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

PennDOT has operated the motorcycle safety program since 1984 and courses are free to Pennsylvania residents and individuals who successfully pass its knowledge and skills test. Those who pass the program are issued a Class M (motorcycle) license. Visit for more information on the Motorcycle Safety Program and to enroll in a course.

For additional safety tips and to download a copy of the Motorcycle Operator’s Manual, as well as to learn how to obtain a Class M (motorcycle) license in PA, visit PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services Web site.

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