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Keeping Motorcyclists Safe on the Road

May 8, 2024

As the warm breeze of spring invites us to hit the open road, it’s crucial for all drivers to remember that we share the streets with a wide variety of vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists.

A 2023 report by Statistics Canada, which examined data from the Canadian Coroner and Medical Examiner Database, indicates that more than half of motorcycle fatalities from 2016 to 2020 resulted from a collision between two or more vehicles.

The data speaks for itself — as drivers, we share some responsibility in protecting our two-wheeled counterparts and ensure their safety through proactive action.

“Understanding the reality of motorcycle fatalities underscores the shared responsibility we bear as drivers to prioritize safety on the road,” said Jackie Barbe, National Manager of Vehicle Programs at the Canada Safety Council. “We all must commit to proactive measures that protect the lives of all road users and promote harmony on our highways.”

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and, to mark the occasion, the Canada Safety Council and Moto Canada are offering a few tips for drivers to help keep motorcycle riders safe on the road:

 Be Aware.

Drivers should actively scan their surroundings, particularly blind spots and intersections, for motorcycles. Mirrors should be regularly checked, and drivers should use turn signals and shoulder checks before changing lanes or making turns. In heavy traffic situations, motorcycles can be more challenging to spot among larger vehicles. Car drivers should actively watch for motorcycles in traffic and avoid tailgating or following too closely behind them.

Give Space.

Drivers should maintain a safe following distance behind motorcycles, allowing them plenty of room to maneuver and react to changing road conditions. When passing motorcycles, drivers should ensure they have enough space to safely overtake them without crowding or cutting them off.

Approach Intersections with Caution.

Intersections are high-risk areas for motorcycle accidents, as they involve multiple vehicles converging from different directions. Statistics Canada indicates that one-in-four fatal motorcycle collisions were a result of a right-angle collision, more commonly known as a T-bone collision. Drivers should exercise caution when approaching intersections, looking for motorcycles before proceeding and yielding the right of way when appropriate. Avoid making sudden turns or lane changes at intersections, as this can catch motorcycle riders off guard.

Engage in Mutual Respect.

Road users of all stripes should treat fellow road users with respect and courtesy. This includes avoiding aggressive or reckless driving behaviors, as these can be perceived as intimidating or, worse, endangering. Use turn signals, obey speed limits, and refrain from distracted driving practices including texting or talking on the phone.

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The task of driving requires proactive effort and awareness. Let’s work together to create a road culture that values and prioritizes the safety of all road users, regardless of the vehicles they choose to ride or drive.

“The rising number of riders hitting the road highlights the growing interest in motorcycling,” stated Landon French, CEO and President of Moto Canada. According to the comprehensive Economic Impact Study conducted by Moto Canada and its partners, there are now a total of 852,300 registered on-road motorcycles. “Given this trend, safety remains a paramount concern for us. Our aim is for riders to confidently embrace the upcoming riding season, enjoying the road safely and without apprehension.”

Access the full Economic Impact Study here.

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For more information, please contact:
Lewis Smith
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council