Wisconsin State Patrol’s June Law Of The Month: Motorcycle Safety

'Share the road with motorcycles for everyone’s safety.'

Wisconsin State Patrol’s June Law Of The Month: Motorcycle Safety

Summer has arrived, bringing motorcycles onto Wisconsin’s roadways. It is the responsibility of all road users to prioritize safety. Following safe driving and riding practices is crucial to prevent crashes on our roads.

The Wisconsin State Patrol’s June Law of the Month reminds drivers and motorcyclists to share the road and stay alert to reduce injuries and fatalities.

In the past five years, there have been roughly 2,000 motorcycle crashes per year in Wisconsin, resulting in an average of 1,700 injuries and 100 fatalities per year.

“Motorcycle riders are at higher risk of being hurt or killed in a crash,” said Superintendent Tim Carnahan said. “There are simple steps both riders and drivers can take to keep everyone safe on our roads.”

Motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a crash than other motorists and four times more likely to be injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Driving near motorcycles

Motorcycles are smaller than the average vehicle, so they can be harder to see on the roads and it’s easy to misjudge their speed and distance. Drivers are asked to use caution when traveling near motorcycles.

Drivers are encouraged to:

  • Look twice for motorcycles; many crashes happen when drivers pull out from a stop sign, turn left or change lanes
  • Keep a safe following distance from a motorcycle; they have a shorter stopping distance so if a motorcycle needs to stop suddenly, you need more room to avoid a collision

Riding safely

Sharing the road is a two-way street, so motorcyclists need to do their part to be visible and follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles. Safe riding practices help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the roads.

Riders should consider the following:

  • Ride defensively and don’t take risks
  • Scan the road ahead carefully, especially on curves, looking for gravel and sand
  • Do not share a lane with another vehicle; staggered riding is suggested for multiple motorcycles
  • Protective, high-visibility clothing and safety gear is recommended
  • State law requires headlamps to be on at all times
  • Helmets are strongly encouraged for all riders and required by state law for those under 18

Safe practices for all road users

The following are safe driving and riding practices that all road users — vehicle drivers and motorcyclists alike — should follow to help keep our roadways safe:

  • Observe all traffic laws and obey speed limits
  • Share the road; according to state law, all vehicles, including motorcycles, are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and no vehicle may deprive another of a lane
  • Drive sober
  • Avoid distractions
  • Put your phone down

Training and education

Training and education are key to preventing motorcycle crashes and injuries. According to state law, you must be properly licensed with a Class M license or Class M Instruction Permit to legally operate a motorcycle on Wisconsin roads. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s partners provide rider courses to help motorcyclists earn their motorcycle license and improve rider skills.

Last Update: Jun 10, 2024 9:15 am CDT

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