BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is raising awareness for motorcyclist safety and urging drivers to be mindful that with warmer, more motorcyclists will begin traveling on roadways throughout the Commonwealth. Roadway safety is a shared responsibility, and vehicle drivers play an essential role in motorcyclist safety by looking twice for motorcycles when pulling out onto roads and changing lanes. In addition, motorcyclists are encouraged to wear visible clothing, drive with caution, and obey all rules of the road. Motorcyclists are also encouraged to only allow qualified and experienced individuals to use their motorcycles.
“Tragically, on average, about four motorcyclists were killed each month last year in crashes on Massachusetts roads,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca. “Crashes are preventable. It is imperative that vehicle drivers pay attention to the road ahead and be cautious when pulling out of side streets and when making turns. It is essential that motorcyclists obey traffic laws, stay in marked lanes, and use turn signals. Lives can be saved if all drivers travel at or below the speed limit, drive sober, and drive hands-free. Life is precious and all of us at MassDOT want travelers to make it to their destinations safely.”
Recent data collected of roadway crashes in Massachusetts and nationwide have shown an alarming rate of roadway fatalities involving motorcycles. The total number of motorcycle fatalities in Massachusetts was 42 deaths in the calendar year 2022. Additionally, preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that nationwide there was a nine percent increase in motorcycle fatalities in traffic crashes from 2020 to 2021.
“The RMV underscores the importance of motorcycle safety, and the critical need for motorcyclists to be properly educated, trained and licensed to be able to safely and cautiously operate motorcycles, and navigate all types of roadway conditions in various weather conditions,” said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie. “Riding a motorcycle can be exhilarating and fun but can also be dangerous as there is a higher risk for severe injury or fatality, so we encourage motorcyclists to be prepared, wear appropriate safety gear and helmets and always try to be bright and visible.”
Motorcyclists face an increased risk of severe injury and death when crashes occur. The two most common roadway fatality crashes are single-vehicle crashes that involve a motorcycle driver failing to negotiate a curve in the road, and crashes involving a left-turning vehicle striking a motorcycle.
Motorcyclists are encouraged to be prepared and participate in educational training courses that are offered through the state-sponsored Rider Education Program (MREP). The program seeks to increase rider skills and safety on the road by providing quality rider education and training to both novice and experienced motorcycle riders. The program is specifically designed to assist riders of all levels and to promote the safe operation of motorcycles.
License waiver courses include Basic Rider Course, Basic Rider Course 2, Returning Rider – Basic Rider Course, and 3 Wheel – Basic Rider Course. MREP also offers additional non-licensing courses for motorcyclists that already have their motorcycle license. In 2022, approximately 6,782 individuals participated in MREP and out-of-state rider training education programs.
Additionally, the RMV has posted a series of PSA “At Home” motorcycle safety videos which highlight 14 licensed motorcyclists who are MassDOT employees sharing their riding experiences and discussing common safety problems facing motorcyclists on roadways. The interviews have safe driving tips, suggestions for motorcycle training, mention the dangers posed by vehicles making unsafe left turns, and include the slogan: “RIDE SMART.” The motorcyclists say riding smart includes taking your time, being bright and visible, anticipating, and riding cautiously. One interviewee states that motorcyclists are not “invincible.” MassDOT’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzBxrvXzs-5EU2BHxbDXa12eSUJxcskZB.