Every year, cyclist and motorcyclist deaths spike over the summer. When the weather improves, more people are out on the roads on two wheels. Sadly, other drivers often fail to notice them or give them space.

May was designated National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month as well as Bike Month. Events during May highlighted the safety of those on two wheels.

Other drivers need to be aware of motorcyclists and bicyclists all year round. Many bikers converge on Georgia over the summer months. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to death and injuries on the highways of our state.

Tips for drivers to share the road with motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists are provided by the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In Georgia, cyclist and motorcyclist deaths spike

Cyclist and motorcyclist deaths spike in Georgia

The agency points out in 2015 motor-vehicle-related crashes killed 5,376 pedestrians, a rise of 9 percent over the previous year and injured another 70,000 people. Deaths among cyclists rose by 10 percent. Motor vehicles claimed the lives of 818 cyclists and injured an estimated 45,000 bicyclists.

No road user has the sole right to the highway, the NHTSA points out. For car, SUV, van, bus, and truck drivers, sharing the road begins with an understanding that bicyclists and motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities.

Drivers should treat bicyclists as they would other drivers and be as aware of them in traffic as they are of larger vehicles. One of the biggest causes of crashes involving cyclists is when drivers fail to give them enough space.

Drivers must watch out for bikes in unexpected places. If you are making a left-hand turn at an intersection, make sure a cyclist is not approaching.

The same rule of thumb applies to motorcyclists. In any crash, motorcyclists are more likely to be seriously injured. Statistics suggest they are almost 30 times as likely to be killed in a crash than a driver or a passenger in a car or truck.

Under Georgia law, drivers must share the road with cyclists. Riders also have a responsibility to obey the rules.

Bicyclists must obey signals, street signs, and road markings. Always ride with traffic. Cyclists should ride defensively. It’s best to assume other road users cannot see you.

Wear bright clothing and have lights and reflectors. Never get distracted by electronic devices, music or anything that takes your attention off the road.

Cyclists should ride with the traffic and ideally avoid sidewalks. Not only does this practice protect pedestrians but sidewalks can end suddenly, forcing riders across roads.

Motorcyclists should avoid excess speed and situations in which they cannot see around a curve ahead. Do not lane split in stationary traffic and never ride a motorcycle after drinking alcohol.

We are often asked how many motorcyclists are killed in Georgia. Typically, about 10 percent of road fatalities in the state are motorcyclists. In 2016, the state recorded 173 motorcyclist deaths, 36 more than in the previous year, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia.

We know cyclist and motorcyclist deaths spike over the summer months in Georgia. Watch out for those on two wheels. If you are injured on the roads of Georgia, call the Law Office of Michael West at (414) 913-1529.