Motorists asked to look-twice, share the road with motorcycles

With over 535,000 Wisconsin residents holding a motorcycle license or permit - combined with the return of warmer weather - motorists can expect to see more motorcyclists on roadways. May has been designated “National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month” and traffic safety officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) ask motorcyclists and all other motorists to share the road, be alert and safe.

“Because of their smaller profile, it’s easy to misjudge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle,” said David Pabst, Director of WisDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety. “That’s why we ask car and truck drivers to look twice for motorcycles before pulling out from a stop sign, turning left at an intersection or changing lanes.”

Safety tips for motorcyclists:

  • Wear all the gear, all the time, including visible and protective equipment
  • Pay attention to the road ahead - gravel or other debris on roadways present special challenges for motorcyclists
  • Get properly licensed

Motorcyclists have two options to get the required Class M license: pass a motorcycle driving skills test after making an appointment at a  Division of Motor Vehicles service center or successfully complete a WisDOT-approved rider education course. For successfully completing an approved education course, motorcyclists earn a skills test waiver they use to obtain their Class M license.

“Education courses are designed for beginners as well as other classes aimed at experienced riders,” Pabst said. “One trend we see is middle-aged people who drove a motorcycle many years ago, then resume riding on a cycle that’s larger and more powerful. A safety refresher course would be a wise investment, and what you learn could save your life.” As a group, the motorcycling community is aging. The average age of a motorcyclist involved in a fatal crash increased from 30 years old in 1992 to 44 in 2017.

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