May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the Santa Maria Police Department is urging safety on the roads.
Motorcycles are smaller than cars and can be harder to see, and drivers should look carefully before changing lanes, police say.
Drivers are urged to check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes, to leave plenty of space when following a motorcycle and to treat a motorcycle with a turn signal with extra caution.
Because motorcyclists travel at high speeds in the open, without the shelter of a car, police say leather or other sturdy clothing is essential. They recommend protective jackets, pants, gloves and boots with nonskid soles. Also, motorcyclists should wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet with eye protection.
When riding, motorcyclists should be on the defensive, avoiding other drivers' blind spots and not assuming a driver can see them. For increased visibility, motorcycles should keep their headlights on at all times while driving.
Finally police say, drivers and riders should never operate a vehicle while distracted or under the influence.
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.