Riding your Harley on Route 128 heading to Salem, Gloucester or elsewhere on Cape Ann, or perhaps heading north on Old Newburyport Turnpike (Route 1) to the Topsfield, Newburyport area: motorcycle safety is critical. To operate a motorcycle in Massachusetts requires a class M license, permit or endorsement. You must be 18 years or older; or if between 16 1/2 and under 18 successfully complete a Massachusetts rider education basic course and meet all Massachusetts junior operating requirements. Of course in the middle of winter we see fewer motorcycle operators on the roads or highways of the Northshore, but with the weather we have been having on the North Shore, there are still riders out there and summer will be here soon enough.
Whether you ride a motorcycle or not, it’s a good idea to review basic motorcycle safety. Do you pay attention to motorcycles when you are driving? Too many drivers forget to pay attention to sharing the road with motorcyclists. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation “when motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it is usually the other (non-motorcycle) driver who violates the motorcyclist’s right of way.” Drivers often do not anticipate the motorcyclist’s movements and do not see motorcycles due to the motorcycle’s size and the car’s blind spots which may obscure the motorcycle and its driver. It is important for auto drivers to look out for motorcyclists and make sure to respect the motorcyclist’s right of way.
There are also safety tips for motorcycles drivers to keep in mind. Mass.gov recommends that before riding your motorcycle you should complete a road ready inspection, wear bright and protective clothing, and use proper lane position so drivers can see you, and always wear a helmet According to Massachusetts General Law M.G.L. 90 §7 and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets that meet the current U.S. DOT’s Federal Vehicle Safety Standards and must also wear eyeglasses, goggles or a protective face shield if the motorcycle is not equipped with a wind shield or screen. According to the National Safety Council the most important equipment a motorcyclist can use is a helmet: “helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries for operators and 41% for passengers, and they saved an estimated 1,699 lives in 2012, according to Injury Facts 2015. An additional 781 lives could have been saved that year if all had worn helmets.”