ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Motorcyclists across the region are celebrating the warmer weather by hitting the road. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, an educational campaign to prevent motorcycle crashes, deaths and injuries.

During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and throughout the year, motorists are reminded to "share the road" with motorcyclists and motorcycle drivers, and passengers are reminded to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and drive defensively.

"Motorcycle safety is a dual responsibility," said H. Mike Allen from the Installation Safety Office.

Due to their narrow profiles, motorcycle can easily be hidden in car and truck driver's blind spots. Allen said that because motorists typically drive with many distractions, the best bet is for motorcyclists to pretend they are invisible.

"This means motorcyclists should drive with a hyperaware mindset, noticing every detail in their surroundings," Allen said.

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration motorcycle fatalities represent approximately five percent of all highway fatalities each year, yet motorcycles represent just two percent of the nation's registered vehicles.

Allen said motorists can safely share the road with motorcyclists by eliminating distracted and impaired driving, following at a safe distance and remembering to look behind their left and right shoulders when making lane changes and turns.

To improve visibility, Allen advises motorcyclists to always have their headlights on and to wear bright clothing and light colored helmets at all times.

"You see motorcyclists who take off their reflective gear once they leave post," he said. "It is safer to leave it on."

Allen advises against risky behaviors like driving on the shoulder of the road or lane splitting, which is illegal in Maryland.

"Don't give motorcyclists a bad name," he said.

Classes strongly recommended for new motorcyclists

Allen strongly recommends classes for new motorcyclists. For active duty military, guard and reserve personnel, classes are required every three years and are offered free on post. To register for a class go to https://imc.army.mil/airs/usg_disclaimer.aspx. According to AR 385-10 Soldiers must carry an up-to-date Motorcycle Safety Foundation course completion card when driving. These courses are not required for civilians, but are recommended. Civilians can take classes off post through community colleges.

"Even experienced motorcyclists should take a refresher course," he said. These classes bring out (highlight) your bad habits and make you a better rider."

A free, basic motorcycle instruction course for Soldiers will be offered 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Bldg. 4304, May 27 -- 28. On May 29, also for Soldiers, an experienced motorcycle instruction course will be offered at the installation's motorcycle range next to the APG North (Aberdeen) Post Office, Bldg. 4510.

Fort Meade provides free classes for all active duty military, guard and reserve personnel sport bike riders. For more information about upcoming basic, advance classes, and the military sport bike course at Fort Meade To register for a class go to https://imc.army.mil/airs/usg_disclaimer.aspx contact George Lawler at 301-677-2396, or george.f.lawler@us.army.mil.

In addition to offering motorcycle courses, on May 14 the Installation Safety Office is sponsoring the SMARTrainer (Safe Motorcyclist Awareness and Recognition Trainer) motorcycle simulator during Wellness Day at the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

SMARTrainer combines a personal computer, video monitor and advanced safety-training-software, with the primary controls of a standard motorcycle to give the rider the feeling he or she is operating a motorcycle on the street in real-world riding situations.

"If someone is thinking about driving a motorcycle for the first time, this would be a good place to start," Allen said.

Team APG is also planning a motorcycle ride in either June or July. Check the APG News and APG social media sites for updated information.

For more information and to obtain a copy of the APG Command Motorcycle Safety Policy, email horace.m.allen.civ@mail.mil, or call 410-306-1081.