Missoula Mayor John Engen has proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Missoula Police Department Traffic Sergeant Greg Amundsen said on Monday, May 5, that both motorcyclists and car drivers must acclimate themselves to motorcycle season. For motorcyclists, that means visibility. The police department has joined the "Share the Road" campaign to prevent motorcycle crashes.

"We tell motorcyclists that it's vital to do everything they can to make other drivers see you," Amundsen said. "First of all, of course, always wear a helmet and obey all the traffic laws. We recommend that you wear brightly colored clothes like the yellow chartreuse with the reflective tapes on it is probably the best idea to make you visible."

Amundsen offers another driving tip for motorcyclists.

"I always tell people to ride to the left side of the lane when you're in traffic, so that people can see you in both the the rear view and side view mirrors. That way, they get two chances to see you, instead of just one."

For car drivers, Amundsen said just being aware that motorcycles are on the road is the most important thing.

"Remember, you're sharing the road with a vehicle that has all the rights and privileges on the road that you have," Amundsen said. "Check all of the mirrors before you change lanes, and turn your head so that you don't miss a motorcycle that may be in your blind spot. And, remember, the roof pillars of your car are just the right size to hide a motorcycle, so be extra cautious before you change lanes. In a collision, the vehicle with the most lug nuts is always going to win, so be extra watchful for motorcycles."

Statistics show an alarming trend: In 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a continued increase from 2010. Injured motorcyclists also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012.

Traffic Sergeant Greg Amundsen