Most drivers of cars and trucks don’t really give motorcyclists a second thought. Unless you have a loved one who rides a motorcycle, you might not think about their safety on the road either. This lack of concern for our most vulnerable motorists leads to far too many injuries and deaths each year. By understanding these few simple facts about how motorcycles work and how riders typically respond in certain situations, you may avoid an accident and save a life.
What You Should Know About Motorcycles
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which provides life-long training to riders and advocates for a safer riding environment, over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. In most of these accidents, the driver of the car or truck is at fault in the crash, but the motorcycle rider is the one left seriously injured.
Rider injury and fatality rates would drop significantly if drivers knew the following important facts about motorcycles:
- Motorcycles have a narrow profile. Because bikes are so narrow, they can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spot or by obstacles like bushes, road signs, fences, or bridges. It only takes an extra second to carefully scan for motorcycles when entering a roadway or changing lanes.
- Motorcycles create an optical illusion. Because of the motorcycle's small size, it can be difficult to judge its speed or distance from you. Always assume that a motorcycle is closer than it is and moving faster than it appears, and don't pull out in front of one.
- Brake lights may not activate when slowing down. A motorcyclist can and often does slow his bike by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, not by engaging the brakes. This means that a bike may be reducing speed or stopping without activating the brake lights. Always allow a generous following distance to compensate for this possibility.
- Riders adjust lane position for a reason. Given that motorcycles have a generous amount of space around them in a highway lane, you may assume that riders are changing lane position to allow you to change lanes. The reality is that they are likely shifting within the lane to reduce wind resistance or to avoid debris. They may also be trying to make themselves more visible to vehicles in front of them. Respect their right to the entire lane and don't take lane-repositioning as a signal to take their space.
- Riders may dodge hazards. Bikes are quick and agile, and a skilled rider may take advantage of those characteristics to maneuver around an obstacle or to make a quick lane change, but don’t assume they always will. Allow a motorcycle as much space as you would another car.
- Bikers cannot stop on a dime. Despite their bikes' maneuverability, motorcyclists have a stopping distance similar to that of a car. Don’t assume a biker will be able to stop quickly, especially on wet or icy roads. Increase your following distance in poor weather conditions.
Motorcycle safety experts suggest looking at a motorcycle not as a vehicle but as a person—it could be a friend or neighbor under the biker's helmet, so give him the respect and safe environment he deserves. Also, be aware that collisions between cars and motorcycles rarely end well for the biker. Motorcyclists often suffer serious injuries and even death in crashes with cars, so it is up to you to drive responsibly to protect them.
Have You Been Injured In A Motorcycle Accident?
If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident you need to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.
You can also order your FREE copy of our book, "KC Biker Bible."