WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Just one second can mean the difference between a smooth commute or a crash when you’re driving on the roads. Especially with motorcycles. 

That’s why this May for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, law enforcement is asking drivers to look twice to save a life. 

Wheeling Police say when you’re driving, always look twice and check your blind spots because motorcycles aren’t always in view the first time you check. 

Officers explained that you should be cautious when passing a motorcycle and keep plenty of distance between your car and the motorcycle. 

Sometimes motorcycles can slow down, so they don’t always squeeze the brakes and they can slow down without the brakes being squeezed, so you might not see the brake lights coming on when a motorcycle slows down, so all the more important to keep that distance.

Lt. Josh Sanders, Traffic & Special Operations Commander, Wheeling Police Department

Lt. Josh Sanders explained said the most common reasons for motorcycle crashes are because the driver didn’t’ see them, or underestimated the motorcycle’s speed. 

It usually has some form of someone failing to yield the right of way during that collision. Whether that’s someone didn’t see the motorcycle like we just talked about or underestimating the size of the vehicle.

Lt. Josh Sanders, Traffic & Special Operations Commander, Wheeling Police Department

The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make sure the reminders of safe motorcycle practices are known across the nation. Those organizations offer additional tips to drivers including:

  • Do not high beam motorcycles at night
  • Do not tailgate a motorcycle
  • Increase that following distance at night and refrain from passing
  • Inform motorcyclists of your intention to turn
  • Remember motorcycles cannot stop as quickly as a car
  • Remember motorcycles react more quickly than cars
  • Stay in your lane
  • Take a second look at left turns and intersections
  • Be extra cautions in bad weather

Lt. Sanders reminds that motorcyclists also have to be safe. 

He advises taking a safety course, sticking to the speed limit and keeping space between yourself and any cars. Proper safety gear is also important, and helmets are required by law in West Virginia.

Here are a few other safety tips from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program:

  • Ride sober
  • Get to know your motorcycle
  • Inspect your motorcycle before each ride
  • Obey all traffic laws, use signals, and obey the speed limit
  • Check the weather before you ride
  • Be visible
  • Be observant and watch for road hazards
  • Stay a safe distance from other vehicles