As a driver, you’ve probably had a close call with a motorcycle. For instance, if a motorcycle was in your blind spot, you may not have seen them before you changed lanes.
Motorcyclists take their safety seriously by watching out for other vehicles and refraining from dangerous stunts like lane-splitting, but you can play a role in their safety as well.
When you’re driving a truck or car, it’s important to realize that driving a motorcycle is a different experience. Their small size and fast nature can make them intimidating, but you need to know how to coexist when you’re driving alongside one. By providing more information, we hope to make it easier to share the road and reduce the risk of motorcycle accidents.
Tips on Sharing the Road
People have to take classes to get their motorcycle license. These courses cover the risks of riding a motorcycle and how to avoid accidents with other vehicles.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those getting regular driver’s licenses. Most driver’s education classes don’t do much to prepare students how to interact with motorcycles on the road. So what do you need to know to share the road with a motorcyclist?
The most important thing is being aware of your surroundings. Do everything you can to make sure you won’t put someone’s life in danger.
The following tips can give you additional insight into the challenges motorcyclists face while on the road:
- Motorcycles are smaller than cars. A bike’s size may make it seem farther away than it is. Look at approaching motorcyclists several times to get a better idea of how close they really are.
- Motorcycles fit perfectly in your blind spots. They can be hidden by road signs, other vehicles, and parts of your car, like the roof pillars or your wing mirrors. Always check your blind spots twice for motorcycles before you make a move.
- Motorcyclists have the same reaction time as you do. Yes, motorcycles may be quicker, smaller, and more easily maneuvered than a car, but that doesn’t mean their drivers have faster reaction times. If a motorcyclist comes across an obstacle, they need the same amount of space and time to react as a car would.
- Motorcyclists need to change lanes more often. You may think motorcyclists are weaving in and out of traffic to get ahead. In reality, they may change lanes to adjust for weather conditions, road debris, or get in a position where other drivers can see them.
- Engine braking helps motorcyclists slow down. When a bike needs to slow down, the driver may shift to a lower gear and take advantage of engine braking. Because of this, you won’t see any brake lights. As a driver, you need to be aware that a motorcycle can slow down without ever using their brakes.
- If it’s raining, a motorcycle needs more time to stop. Smaller tires give motorcycles less surface area, so when they stop on a wet road, they need more space than a regular car would.
- Motorcycle blinkers aren’t self-cancelling. Unlike your car, a motorcyclist has to manually turn off their blinkers. New riders may forget to do this, so if you see a motorcyclist driving with their blinkers on, that may be why.
- Motorcyclists aren’t always speeding. Because they are smaller than a car, they may appear to be going faster when, in reality, they aren’t.
- Motorcyclists may ride in groups for safety. You’ve probably come across a large group of motorcycle riders on the road. If you see a group of riders, don’t merge into the group, as this can pose a risk to everyone’s safety.
The above tips can make you more aware of the differences between motorcycles and cars, making it easier for everyone to share the road.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
One of the first studies on motorcycle accidents was the Hurt Report in 1981. Conducted in Los Angeles, the study focused on accidents involving motorcycles and automobiles.
Of the 3,600 motorcycle accidents reviewed, three-fourths of them were involved in a collision with a passenger vehicle. Two-thirds of these accidents were caused by the driver in the passenger vehicle failing to yield right of way to the motorcyclist.
The Hurt Report was published over 35 years ago, but the numbers haven’t changed much. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, half of the 5,076 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2015 were caused by collisions with a passenger vehicle. Additionally, 41 percent of these were caused when a vehicle turned left in front of a motorcyclist.
Pennsylvania has its fair share of motorcycle accidents each year. There were 3,284 motorcycle accidents resulting in 3,207 injuries and 186 deaths in 2014. A passenger vehicle, SUV, or heavy truck was involved in 890 of these accidents.
Motorcycles and cars collide frequently. As attorneys, we see these accidents all too often. Catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths can be prevented, but it takes effort from drivers to learn how to coexist with motorcyclists.
It only takes a fraction of a second for you to hurt a motorcyclist and change your and their lives forever. If you or a loved one ride motorcycles, share this article to help others understand how drivers and motorcyclists can share the road.