As spring rolls in, the folks on two wheels roll out. This mass exodus of motorcycles onto the roadways make so many feel free, yet at the same time, puts them all at risk. Motorcycles are inherently dangerous. The lack of structure around the rider puts them directly in jeopardy during an accident. That said, most motorcycle accidents can be avoided with a little added awareness.
According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), 72 of every 100,000 motorcycles are involved in an accident, while only 13 cars per 100,000 meet the same fate. Additionally, the fatality rate is 35 times greater on a motorcycle. The kicker of all of it is that 75% of all motorcycle accidents involve a passenger vehicle, and two-thirds of those accidents are due to the driver of the passenger vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right of way. Only 3% of all motorcycle accidents are due to mechanical failures. The fact is that the vehicle driver’s failure to recognize and observe a motorcycles right of way is the predominant cause of accidents.
What can you do about it? Follow these steps from the NHSTA to ensure that you are not involved in an accident with a motorcycle.
A motorcycle has all the rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times. Never attempt to drive in the same lane as a motorcycle.
Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
Motorcycles do not have cancelling turn signals; they often will ride for miles with a signal on. Pay attention and be careful.
Many motorcycles are quiet, especially smaller bikes such as scooters. Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
Motorcycles may make rapid and abrupt changes in speed and lane position to avoid road debris and potholes. Allow more following distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
Never drive distracted or impaired.
As a motorcyclist, there are things you can do to minimize your risk as a rider. Bikers must be extra careful, as vehicle drivers are not always aware of where you are.
Helmets save lives. Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed. Just because your bike can fit between cars doesn’t mean you should try it.
Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
Never ride distracted or impaired.
Motorcycles provide a special kind of freedom that a car can’t provide. Doing your part to keep them safe will also help keep you and your family safe when sharing the road with motorcycles. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, let’s make it safe for everyone.
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A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.