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Motorcyclists are the most at-risk users of the road

If you ride a motorcycle, chances are you have seen some close calls on the road. With spring and summer riding season finally here, you might be anxious to take your first long ride of the year. But, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers other drivers may pose. How can you be prepared?

People who do not ride a motorcycle have a different perspective on road safety. Drivers of passenger cars have a seatbelt, airbags, a quiet cab and a comfortable seat. They are not exposed to the elements or changes in the roadway in the same ways you are as a rider. They may have forgotten about motorcycles on the road during the colder months. This means their instinct to recognize and avoid dangerous behavior may not be as sharp as yours.

Distracted drivers pose a risk to motorcyclists

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, nearly 40% of accidents involving cars and motorcycles may be the result of a distracted driver. The use of electronic devices behind the wheel, including cell phones, tablets and GPS, have led to an increase in unexpected lane wandering by drivers. Even if your presence should be evident by a loud motorcycle engine or safety colors on your protective equipment, you may be left in a position to avoid a distracted driver while you are right next to them on the road.

How can motorcyclists stay safe?

The basics of safety are easy. Wear a helmet and protective equipment, never drink and ride and always obey the rules of the road. However, some elements of safety are a bit more nuanced. Visibility is often the key to avoiding a dangerous incident with a driver on the road — your speed and position in your lane matter.

Motorcycle.com recommends riders pick a spot to the left or right of the lane where tire tracks are made by larger vehicles. These are the spots where the road is free from debris and allows you space to avoid other vehicles. If you are in the right lane, ride to the right. If you are in the left lane, ride to the left. Be aware of larger vehicles that may have larger blind spots. You should also speed up or slow down to avoid blind spots and being boxed in.

For many riders, a motorcycle is a place of freedom on the road. But, it should never be a place free from safety and awareness of other drivers.