May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, designed to encourageall drivers and motorcyclists to share the road with each other.Increased awareness of motorcycle safety has helped improve thenumber of injuries and fatalities of motorcyclists.

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In 2014, 4,586 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, adecrease of 2.3% from 4,692 in 2013. Those deaths account for 14%of the total highway fatalities that year. This decrease inmotorcycle fatalities continues to break a tragic trend over thelast 17 years, which saw only one other decline in 2009. Injuredmotorcyclists also decreased from 93,000 in 2013 to 88,000 in2014.

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Safe riding practices and cooperation from all road users willhelp continue to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries onU.S. highways, but it is especially important for motorists tounderstand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists (such assize and visibility) and motorcycle riding practices likedownshifting and weaving to know how to anticipate and respond tothem. By raising motorists' awareness, both drivers and riders willbe safer sharing the road.

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Share the following safety tips from Geico with your customersto help ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time thismotorcycle season:

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Motorcycle helmets

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(Photo: iStock)

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Always wear a helmet

A motorcycle helmet is a rider's best friend and the mostimportant piece of safety equipment to protect against a criticalhead injury. In many states, it is also the law.

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Make sure your helmet is Department of Transportation-approved,and includes a face shield or protective eyewear to help reducewind noise and deflect debris that flies through the air.

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Protective clothing

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(Photo: iStock)

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Wear protective clothing

Leather goes a long way to help protect motorcycle riders incase of an accident. Leather jackets, gloves, pants and boots offergood protection from road scrapes and minimizes severe injuries.Reflective clothing will also make it easier for other drivers tosee you, especially at night.

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Motorcycle safety course

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(Photo: iStock)

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Take a motorcycle safety course

Hone and sharpen your riding skills with a formal motorcyclesafety course. Courses such as the MSF Basic riding course is oneof the best ways to learn the basics of operating a motorcycle andmaking wise judgments when riding. Some insurance companies offerparticipants a discount for completion of a course.

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Motorcycle maintenance

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(Photo: iStock)

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Check your bike

Proper motorcycle maintenance is just as important as practicingsafe riding. Inspect the tires for air and make sure the lights arein good working condition. Also periodically check and test theclutch and throttle, brake fluid, controls and adjust themirrors.

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Motorcycle rules of the road

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(Photo: iStock)

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Follow the rules of the road

Speed limits and local traffic laws are there to keep riderssafe at all times. Remember to obey the rules of the road andalways pass vehicles on the passing lane. Give yourself enough timeto brake.

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Defensive biking

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(Photo: iStock)

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Ride defensively

Many motorcycle accidents are caused by a driver violating arider's right of way. Ride with your headlights on at all times andsignal well in advance of any change in direction. Always watch forturning vehicles and be extra careful in inclement weather.

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Motorcycle blind spots

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(Photo: iStock)

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Stay out of blind spots

It's difficult for drivers to see a motorcycle so riding in avehicle's blind spot is a dangerous proposition. Position yourmotorcycle in the lane behind a car so that you can be seen at alltimes.

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Motorcycle road hazards

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(Photo: iStock)

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Watch for road hazards

Potholes, train tracks, oil slicks and roadway debris can causeproblems for the most experienced rider. Stay alert and avoidpossible road hazards.

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Drinking and riding

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(Photo: iStock)

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Don't drink and ride

It's illegal to operate a motorcycle while under the influenceof alcohol. Alcohol affects judgment, vision and decreases yourability to ride and react defensively. Under any circumstances, youshould never drink and ride a motorcycle.

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Related: Time to hit the road: Motorcycle insurance coverageand options explained

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