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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2014
No.: 14-2531
Contact: Jeremy Woodrow, 907-465-8994, Jeremy.Woodrow@alaska.gov

Alaska DOT&PF Advises Motorists to "Share the Road"

(JUNEAU, Alaska) – Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) reminds motorists and motorcyclists alike during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to “share the road” in order to help prevent motorcycle crashes, deaths and injuries on all Alaska roads.

“Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather gets warmer, which is why May is the perfect month to promote Motorcycle Safety Awareness,” said Tammy Kramer, DOT&PF Alaska Highway Safety Office Administrator. “Fatal crashes with motorcycles are on the rise, and helmet usage is on the decline. We all need to be more aware of motorcyclists in order to save lives.”

There have been six fatalities involving motorcyclists across Alaska this year. The state averages nearly nine motorcycle deaths per year.

Nationally, motorcyclist deaths account for 15 percent of all highway fatalities, despite representing only three percent of registered vehicles. In 2012, 4,927 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a continued increase from 2011 (4,630).

Helmet usage is also on the decline nationwide, dropping from 66 percent of motorcyclists wearing helmets in 2011, to only 60 percent in 2012. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1,699 lives were saved in 2011 because of proper helmet usage, but another 781 lives could have been saved if helmets had been worn.

Alaska DOT&PF advises that motorcyclists take precautions to remain safe on the road and can increase their safety by following these steps:

  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
  • Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
  • Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
  • Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
  • Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
  • Never ride distracted or impaired.

Drivers can also do their part to share the road by following these safety tips:

  • Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the same rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow motorcyclists the full width of a lane at all times.
  • Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Be careful when a motorcycle has its signal on. Motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
  • Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
  • Always allow more follow distance – three to four additional seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This allows them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
  • Never drive distracted or impaired.

 

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 239 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, more than 5,600 miles of highway and 776 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”

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