May is Motorcycle Awareness month. Drivers are being encouraged to pay attention. Riders are being encouraged to pay even more attention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has posted its annual reminder that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As they signaled last year, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation , motorcycle fatalities have been on the rise an average of 10-percent per year over the last 20 years. Even though motorcycles account for less than five percent of registered vehicles in the US, they are traveling some 21-million miles each year. NHTSA reports that per vehicle traveled, motorcyclists were more than 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash.

Certainly there are patterns to be found in the crash data for motorcycle incidents. Motorcycle collisions are more likely with fixed objects than other vehicles; however, about 75-percent of two-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles were motorcyclists colliding with vehicles in front of them. They are more likely to crash with other vehicles turning left, while the motorcycles were going straight, passing, or overtaking passenger vehicles.

Motorcyclists have all the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle driver on the roadway. This means they are entitled to their space on the road, no matter the size of their ride. This also means that they must follow the same road laws as other vehicles, including keeping a safe distance from other vehicles. During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May - and during the rest of the year - drivers of all other vehicles are reminded to "share the road" with motorcyclists, and to be extra alert to keep motorcyclists safe. The NHTSA has been collecting model Share The Road language from the States and is currently developing highly-specific segmented messages that directly correspond to specific crash factors for states to utilize in their own motorist awareness efforts.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has proclaimed May to be Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month in Indiana. American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) of Indiana along with Holcomb and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are urging everyone to share the road.

ABATE of Indiana will be hosting an event in conjunction with the Indiana War Memorial, Marion County Traffic Safety Partnership, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indiana State Police and Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The kickoff event for Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month will take place on Monument Circle, Indianapolis, Thursday, May 4, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. All motorcyclists are welcome to join in and park their bike on the Circle with police motors from various agencies and some special attractions.

"We encourage all motorcyclists to ride responsibly and respectfully. Ride free of impairment and make certain you are properly licensed to operate a motorcycle. We recommend that all riders take a formal rider education course, as studies have indicated that 90 percent of crash involved riders are self taught," reported Jay Jackson, ABATE of Indiana executive director.