When you’re out on the roads and highways, be alert for motorcycles. Nearly 7.1 million motorcycles are registered in the U.S. Because of their size, motorcycles can be difficult to spot in traffic especially with various distractions such as cell phones, kids demanding your attention, etc. While motorcycles go as fast as cars, they offer no more protection than being on a bicycle which makes injuries in accidents far more severe compared to a similar accident in a vehicle.
According to the NHTSA, the death rate for motorcycle riders is 5 1/2 times that of passenger car occupants involved in accidents. When you look at it on a per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes. In 2008, over 5,200 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. The failure of motorists to detect motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents with approximately 2/3 of accidents being the fault of the passenger car driver not yielding the right of way. No one wants to be responsible for such an accident; therefore, for motorcyclists’ safety and your own, be actively aware and pay extra attention. If everyone exercises courtesy and good judgment we can reduce the number of accidents.
tips to keep everyone safe
proactively alert – Be aware of your surroundings and look for motorcycles as you drive. Trucks and large vehicles can make it harder to see, so look carefully.
Check blind spots and mirrors – Before you merge or change lanes, be sure to look twice. Pay special attention in heavy traffic. Always use your turning signals to help motorcycles anticipate your moves.
Use caution at intersections and turns – Any time roads cross, check twice before you proceed or turn because most accidents happen in these locations. Statistically, most motorcycle accidents with other vehicles occur when a passenger vehicle is taking a left hand turn. It is often difficult for a driver to see a motorcycle coming through traffic and to judge the motorcycle’s speed. Look twice at twice at an approaching motorcycle and make sure it is safe to proceed.
Leave a larger gap when following – Keep a greater distance between you and a motorcycle than you would for other vehicles. Motorcyclists often reduce their speed by downshifting or decelerating, which doesn’t activate the brake light, so anticipate slow downs without a visual warning when behind a motorcycle.
Don’t try to share a lane – Never try to share the same lane space as a motorcycle, even if the motorcyclist is riding to one side. Motorcycles often shift position in a lane to better view traffic or avoid road hazards. Crowding into a lane is illegal and dangerous.
Give more space in tough road conditions – Gravel, potholes and slippery wet surfaces that are minor problems for a car can be a major problem for a motorcycle. These circumstances can force a motorcyclist to change speed and direction suddenly. If road and weather conditions are less than perfect, allow motorcycles extra time and room to maneuver.
Avoid distracted driving – Stay focused on your driving and limit distraction. Distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phones, but also includes anything that pulls a drivers attention from the road for a few seconds including controlling children, changing radio, eating, pets, sightseeing, looking at directions, etc.