Q&A with Ted Kennett: Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety

In Pennsylvania, there are roughly 850,000 licensed motorcyclists. If you are a motorcyclist, it is important to know how to keep yourself safe. If you do not drive a motorcycle, it is just as important to understand how you can help reduce hazards. For National Motorcycle Safety month, Ted Kennett discusses motorcycle safety and what to do if you are involved in a motorcycle accident.

What contributes to motorcycle accidents?

The most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Abrupt stops
  • Car doors
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Left turn accidents
  • Lane splitting
  • Other drivers not seeing motorcyclists
  • Gravel or other debris on the roadway

Most motorcyclists are responsible and safe drivers. Many wear high visibility colors to improve the chances of being seen. Even if motorcyclists take these precautions, the reality is that motorcycles are smaller than cars and trucks and sometimes simply are not seen clearly by other drivers. As a motorcyclist, I know that other drivers can look right at motorcyclists and still pull out in front of the bike. For this reason, it is wise to look at the other vehicle’s tires to see what the driver is doing rather than looking at the driver.

Unlike cars, trucks or buses, motorcycles do not have the protection of a metal exterior or air bags. What could be a small fender bender between two vehicles may cause life-threatening injuries for a motorcyclist. To help reduce motorcycle accidents and fatalities, take precaution on the road and follow the motorcycle safety tips listed below.

Is there a Pennsylvania motorcycle helmet law?

Yes. The law states that protective headgear does not need to be worn if the rider is at 21 years old and/or has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for longer than a full calendar year or has successfully completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. If the rider, however, is on a learner’s permit, they are required to wear headgear, no matter their age.

Passengers are exempt from wearing a helmet if they are older than 21.

All riders younger than 21 must wear a helmet.

How do I know if my helmet complies with the Pennsylvania motorcycle helmet law?

The easiest way to know if your helmet complies with the law is if there is a “DOT” sticker on the helmet. This sticker represents that it meets the standards approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

On the inside of the helmet, the following has to be visible without removing padding or any other part of the helmet:

  • Name of manufacturer
  • Month and year of manufacturing
  • Size
  • Model designation

The “DOT” sticker is the only required information that needs to be visible on the outside of the helmet. It is recommended by PennDOT to have this sticker centered on the back of your helmet.

As a motorist, what can I do to ensure motorcycle safety?

You most likely have seen the iconic “Watch For Motorcycles” bumper stickers. Motorcyclists are often overlooked on the road. They tend to be more difficult to see, especially in blind spots. Before changing lanes, it is important to check your mirrors and blind spots.

Even though motorcycles are smaller than cars and trucks, it is important for drivers of cars and trucks to follow the same safety rules as would be used when driving around other cars and trucks. Motorcycles have the same privileges as any other vehicle on the road. Leave at least four seconds’ distance when following a motorcycle and provide them with a full lane width so they can maneuver safely. And motorcyclists must drive defensively rather than aggressively.

Motorcyclists should wear protective gear. There is a wide range of protective gear that has been designed to keep motorcyclists safe and comfortable even in the hot and humid weather.

What should I do if I was injured in a motorcycle accident?

As a motorcyclist, you are at a higher risk of being injured in a crash. Often, motorcyclists suffer severe injuries no matter what protective gear is worn.

Just like any other accident, you should take the following steps:

  • Report the accident
  • Document any damage
  • Collect information from the driver or other rider
  • If there are witnesses, collect their information
  • See a doctor

If you think you have a motorcycle injury accident, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

How can I get involved in motorcycle safety programs?

PennDOT recommends the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP) for all riders. In 1985, PAMSP began as an operation to teach riders, of all skill levels, the basics of motorcycle fundamentals and safety. This free, hands-on training, is available for all Pennsylvania riders with a valid PA motorcycle license or permit.

The Live Free Ride Alive campaign was created to reduce motorcycle crashes and fatalities across the state of Pennsylvania while educating on motorcycle safety.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact KBG today. We will fight to get you the Results You Deserve®.