Laura Bush has a special interest in driving safety and road awareness.
“I’ve lost quite a few friends. I’ve been to many funerals the last three years in the Fort Worth area,” said Bush, business manager of the Boys and Girls Club of Hood County, who runs the club’s resale shop. “The biggest issue I see is, people in cars just don’t see motorcycles.”
The Department of Public Safety has designated May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month and is reminding drivers to use caution to cut down on the number of accidents involving motorcycles.
Bush said she has been a frequent motorcycle rider – “as often as possible” – for about six years but hasn’t been involved in a serious accident. However, she came close about two weeks ago as she was nearing Fort Worth on a trip to the Metroplex.
“A car was changing lanes and didn’t see me,” Bush said. “I had to think very quickly to get away. It had my heart racing, for sure.”
The DPS wants drivers to raise their level of awareness, using its previously established awareness slogans, “Share the Road” and “Look Twice.” The caution is especially emphasized for drivers entering intersections and changing lanes – two common locations where major motorcycle accidents happen. Half of all fatal motorcycle collisions in Texas are caused by the driver not seeing the motorcyclist.
“We’re everyday people, so share the road,” said Bush, who added that she has also been a frequent motorcycle passenger going back about 20 years.
“Because of size and visibility, motorcyclists face unique challenges on the road that make them more vulnerable,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said. “Motorcyclists can further protect themselves by wearing helmets; and other drivers can help by looking twice and giving extra space to motorcyclists.”
There are more than 440,000 motorcycles and mopeds registered in Texas. In 2012, 460 people died in motorcycle crashes in the state. Although that mark was down from the 488 killed the previous year, the latest number represented 13 percent of all traffic deaths in Texas in 2012. Statewide, 89 percent of all motorcycle accidents result in injury or death.
May also is the 30th anniversary of the DPS Motorcycle Safety Unit, which coordinates training courses at more than 200 locations around the state for basic and experienced riders. To find a training location, call 800-292-5787 or go online (www.dps.texas.gov/msb).
Safety tips for drivers offered by the DPS include:
Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width. Never try to share a lane.
Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when behind a motorcycle so the driver has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
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