April is Distracted Driving Awareness month and this is a great time of year to review your safe driving habits. For motorcycle riders, there’s always an additional risk when operating your vehicle. Therefore, it’s even more important to practice safe driving habits and decrease your risk of a serious accident by becoming a more informed rider.

How Dangerous is Distracted Driving?

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, there were over 3,000 distracted driving fatalities in 2020 alone. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents in the US and over 300,000 people were injured as a result.

Moving forward, the nearly 8 individuals a day the National Safety Council projects are killed in fatal distracted driving accidents are the reason to continue efforts to inform drivers and create safer roads for all vehicles.

How Are Motorcycle Riders More at Risk?

The latest motorcycle crash data available from The Insurance Information Institute suggests that additional risk distracted driving vehicle accidents have for motorcycle riders. In 2020, motorcyclists posted a fatal crash rate of 68.71 per 100,000 registered vehicles. This is over 4 times greater than what the reported risk for passenger cars was in 2020 at only 16.71 fatalities per 100,000 registered vehicles.

Another concerning aspect of potential added risk is that the progressive improvement in motorcycle safety technology hasn’t appeared to affect fatal crash risk within this dataset. Since the data began being tracked in 2010, 68.71 is the highest motorcycle fatality rate within the study. The 22% increase in fatality rate for motorcycle occupants compared to 2011 was the highest of all other vehicle types.

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention charted that more than 5,500 cyclists died in 2020 and more than 180,000 were treated for emergency room injuries. All of this data suggests that distracted driving vehicle fatalities account for a significant amount of motorcycle related accident risk. During April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month it’s important to recognize the dangers of poor driving habits, while becoming a more informed motorcycle rider in order to make the roads a safer place for yourself and others.

Defensive Driving Tips for Motorcyclists

For motorcyclists, adopting a defensive driving mindset is a great way to create a safer environment for all vehicles. Here’s a few safety tips to help combat the additional motorcycle drivers may face each ride.

Wearing Safety Gear

Helmets saved over an estimated 1,800 lives in 2017 alone, while over 700 more could’ve been positively affected by wearing one. Helmets are proven over 35% effective at saving the lives of both passengers and drivers. Even for non-fatal accidents, wearing a helmet reduced the risk of serious head injury by nearly 70%. Protective gloves, boots, and a jacket can be used to ensure your comfortability and improve your protection in the event of an accident.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

This is an essential aspect of active driving in any vehicle. Paying attention to your surroundings improves your ability to react to hazards and be a more effective defensive driver. Being prepared to act can be the difference in avoiding the threat of an accident.

Share the Road

Some common causes of motorcycle accidents include sudden lane changes, unexpected left turns, and tailgating. Understanding that motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers is important. The lack of visibility for motorcycles, paired with the additional risk of lane sharing or splitting, increases the need for drivers to exercise caution. Avoid blind spots, high speeds, and don’t assume other vehicles can see you.