For motorcyclists, the biggest danger on the road is drivers of cars and trucks. Thousands of motorcycle accidents happen every year; 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in 2012 – a 7 percent increase from 2011. Many motorcycle accidents could be avoided if drivers knew how to look out for motorcyclists and drive with them harmoniously.
- Over 50 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle and most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. This is often because motorists don’t see the motorcyclist.
- Motorcycles often get hidden in a car’s blind spots or blocked by objects or backgrounds outside the car such as trees and fences.
- Motorcycles are small compared to trucks or cars so they may look farther away than they are in a side view or rear view mirror. It is best to err on the side that a motorcycle is closer than it appears.
- Don’t expect to see brake lights. Motorcyclists often slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, which doesn’t activate the brake light. The solution here is to allow more following distance behind a motorcyclist and not to expect to see a brake light.
- If you see a motorcyclist adjusting position within a lane understand that he is often doing this to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind.
- Be aware that turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, which means that if the rider forgets to turn them off after a turn or lane change, it will continue blinking past its usefulness.
- Motorcycles do have good maneuverability compared to trucks and cars, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect that they will always be able to dodge out of the way.
- Although the stopping distance for motorcycles is about the same as for cars, motorcycles have more difficulty stopping in slippery or wet conditions.
Driving Safety tips for motorists from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation
- Keep a look out for motorcyclists. Be very aware of blind spots before changing lanes or turning at intersections.
- Focus on driving. Reduce driving distractions such as your cell phone and music player and focus on the road and other drivers.
- Use turn signals before making a move.
- Give motorcycles some room. Avoid tailgating or passing too closely.
- Avoid speeding and slow down in bad driving conditions such as heavy rain or snow.
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