OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As the weather becomes calmer, motorcyclists will begin hitting the pavement.

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and AAA is reminding everyone to use caution when driving around motorcyclists.

Each year in Oklahoma, an average of 76 motorcycle riders and passengers are killed in traffic accidents. Another 991 riders and passengers are injured, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

“The rise in motorcycle fatalities needs to be addressed and motorists are reminded to safely ‘Share the Road’ with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe,” says Rylie Mansuetti, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma. “Motorcyclists are also reminded of their responsibility to keep themselves as safe as possible by following the rules of the road, being alert to other drivers, and never driving while impaired or distracted.”

Officials say that as fatalities increased on a national scale, helmet use has actually declined significantly over the past few years.

Nearly 70 percent of those killed in motorcycle-involved crashes in Oklahoma in 2021 were not wearing a helmet.

Currently, Oklahoma only requires riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet on a motorcycle.

AAA Oklahoma has released a list of tips for protecting motorcyclists on the roadway:

Tips for Motorists

  • Share the road.  A motorcycle has the same privileges as any other vehicle on the road.  Be courteous and give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel.
  • Look out. Look for motorcyclists on the highway, especially at intersections when a cyclist may be making a turn or changing lanes.  Clearly signal your intentions.
  • Anticipate a motorcyclist’s maneuvers.  Obstructions (debris, potholes, etc.) that you may ignore or not notice can be deadly for a motorcyclist.  Anticipate their possible evasive actions.
  • Allow plenty of space.  Do not follow a motorcycle too closely.  Allow enough room for the motorcyclist to take evasive actions.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

  • Make yourself visible.  Choose protective gear that provides visibility and protection.  This includes wearing bright colors.  If riding at night, wear clothing with reflective materials.
  • Allow space.  Position your bike in the lane so that you can be seen.  Allow additional space for emergency braking and room to maneuver.  Avoid riding in a motorist’s blind spot.  Make lane changes gradually and use appropriate signaling.
  • Never share a lane beside a car.  A driver may be unaware of your presence.  Most drivers are looking for larger vehicles, not motorcycles.
  • Clearly signal your intentions. Use turn signals before changing lanes and never weave between lanes.
  • Wear protective gear.
    • Helmet – Always wear a U.S. DOT-approved helmet. 
    • Eye protection – Visibility is key to riding safely.  Many motorcycles do not have windshields.  Riders should protect their eyes with goggles that can shield the face from wind and debris, both of which can cause tearing and, blurred vision.
    • Body Protection – Jackets with long sleeves and well-fitting abrasion resistant pants.
    • Gloves – Durable gloves should be a non-slip type to permit a firm grip on controls.
    • Footwear – Proper over-the-ankles footwear should be worn to help prevent injuries.
  • Complete a motorcycle rider education and training course.  The overwhelming majority of motorcyclists have had no formal training.  Get professional training on how to be a defensive driving motorcyclist.