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OCR for page 7
SECTION II Introduction The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO's) Strategic Highway Safety Plan includes 22 key emphasis areas that affect highway safety. Each of the emphasis areas includes strategies and an outline of what is needed to implement each strategy. A series of guides is being developed, including this guide on motorcycle safety, to assist state and local agencies in reducing injuries and fatalities in targeted emphasis areas. The guides correspond to the emphasis areas outlined in the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan. One of the plan's hallmarks is to comprehensively approach safety problems. The range of strategies available in the guides will ultimately cover various aspects of the road user, the highway, the vehicle, the environment, and the management system. The guides strongly encourage the user to develop a program to tackle a particular emphasis area from each perspective in a coordinated manner. To facilitate this, the electronic form of the material uses hypertext links to enable seamless integration of various approaches to a given problem. Several guides have already been developed for other emphasis areas, so the integration between guides should be very useful. AASHTO's overall goal is to move away from independent activities of engineers, law enforcement, educators, judges, and other highway safety specialists and to move toward coordinated efforts. The implementation process outlined in the series of guides promotes the formation of working groups and alliances that represent all of the elements of the safety system. In so doing, they can use their combined expertise to reach the bottom-line goal of targeted reduction of crashes and fatalities associated with a particular emphasis area. Goal 11 in the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan is to improve motorcycle safety and increase motorcycle awareness; that is, the awareness by highway agencies of the unique characteristics of motorcycles and their needs on the roadway. This guide includes strategies intended to reduce the number and severity of motorcycle crashes. Strategies include not only operation of the motorcycle, but ways of improving both the traveled way and roadside to be more `motorcyclefriendly.' This volume addresses many topics covered in other emphasis areas, but will approach each one solely from the viewpoint of how each affects motorcycle users. A key resource for guidance on improving motorcycle safety and awareness is the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety (NAMS), published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, 2000, motorcycle/00-NHT-212-motorcycle/toc.html). NAMS represents a significant effort by many stakeholders in motorcycle safety and provides recommendations to improve motorcycle safety. The recommendations provided by NAMS served as a resource and a starting point for the development of this guide. The reader is encouraged to compare and compile information from the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety to use along with this guide in tackling the motorcycle safety needs most pertinent to their roadway system or area of responsibility. II-1

OCR for page 7
SECTION II--INTRODUCTION Since the mid-1990's, motorcycle use in the United States for commuting and recreational purposes has been on the rise, with motorcycle registrations having increased 61 percent between 1996 and 2005 (NHTSA, 2006b). As the number of motorcyclists increases, it is important that the safety issues associated with this mode of travel be addressed. These issues include the need for improved motorcycle crash reporting, personal protective equipment, proper motorcycle rider training, and roadway environment characteristics that pose a unique problem to motorcyclists. Motorcycles themselves present a unique mode of transport relative to other motor vehicles. The lack of a protected vehicle compartment means that motorcycle riders and passengers are much more vulnerable to injury in crash situations. Furthermore, the task of operating a motorcycle is much more demanding than operating a passenger vehicle. Riders must focus on coordinating speed and body lean, and managing traction and control, while navigating various surfaces, curves and conditions. While there are risks associated with riding motorcycles, this guide demonstrates how to minimize some of these risks by addressing specific objectives with detailed strategies designed to approach motorcycle safety from a variety of perspectives. II-2