Many studies show the high rate of accidents that kill motorcyclists across the United States. Despite all of this data, however, motorcycle accidents continue to occur at an alarmingly high rate. Even more frightening are the number of accidents that are caused by the negligence of other drivers.
For example, according to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of all fatal motorcycle accidents were caused by a bike colliding with another vehicle. The report states that over 30% of these crashes were caused when another vehicle was turning left while the motorcycle was going straight. It is important to remember to always be on the lookout for motorcycles when driving in your car.
Here are five things drivers do to kill motorcyclists when on the road:
1) Many drivers do not look twice in intersections
As the NHTSA report specifies, many motorcycle accidents occur when a vehicle turning in an intersection does not take the time to look twice – once for cars, and once for motorcycles. Whether you are turning left or right in your vehicle, remember that cutting off a motorcycle can cause a devastating accident.
2) Drivers do not give motorcyclists enough space
Unlike driving in a car, motorcyclists must constantly navigate around obstructions on the road. Everything from potholes to uneven heights between lanes are a potential danger, so leave more than enough room between yourself and the motorcycle to ensure that they have sufficient room to maneuver.
3) Drivers do not watch for lane splitting motorcyclists
Contrary to popular belief, lane splitting is not explicitly illegal in many states, and in California, lane splitting is legal. While courts may find the motorcyclist at fault for driving in between cars, liability may also be attached to a driver if the motorcyclist can show that the accident occurred when the driver was changing lanes or not paying attention. Regardless of liability, being aware that motorcyclists may be driving in between lanes can save lives.
4) Often, drivers follow as closely to a motorcycle as they would a car
Stopping distances for motorcycles can vary with road conditions and the type of motorcycle used. Leave enough space in front of the motorcycle ahead of you in case the rider stops quickly.
5) Drivers fail to realize that a motorcycle is not a car
In addition the discussion above, it is generally important to understand that riding a motorcycle is vastly different than driving a car. Motorcyclists must take more factors into account when riding, and sometimes act differently than a driver would in a similar situation. For example, motorcyclists often slow down by downshifting rather than braking, and therefore do not activate the motorcycle’s brake light. With the removal of such an important visual cue, it may be more difficult to tell when a motorcycle is slowing down.
These motorcycle safety tips are an important first step in making the road safer for everyone. But accidents will undoubtedly still occur. If you or someone you know is in an accident, and a driver may be at fault, please contact us today.
As a motorcyclist I want to say thank you for writing about this. Nothing I hate more than a tailgating car…