In my legal practice, I serve many individuals from the motorcycle community who've unfortunately been involved in automobile accidents. Given the unique characteristics of motorcycles and their interaction with other vehicles on the road, I've put together ten tips aimed at enhancing safety for all road users - car, truck, and motorcycle drivers alike:
1. It's crucial to note that over half of fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. More often than not, the car or truck driver is at fault, not the motorcyclist. Due to the size of motorcycles, some drivers may unintentionally ignore them. Awareness and attention are key.
2. A motorcycle's narrow profile can easily hide it in a car's blind spot or be obscured by outside objects like bushes, fences, or bridges. When changing lanes or turning at intersections, take an extra moment to look for motorcycles.
3. Owing to their size, motorcycles may appear farther away than they actually are, making it challenging to judge their speed. Always assume that a motorcycle is closer than it appears when checking traffic at intersections or driveways.
4. Motorcyclists frequently slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, actions that don't activate the brake light. Therefore, allow a more significant following distance, ideally 3 to 4 seconds. Be prepared for a motorcycle to slow down at intersections without visual warning.
5. Motorcyclists often adjust their position within a lane for better visibility and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that this lane adjustment is purposeful and not intended for reckless behavior or lane sharing.
6. Motorcycle turn signals are typically not self-canceling. Some riders, especially beginners, may forget to turn them off after making a turn or changing lanes. Always confirm that a motorcycle's signal is intentional and not mistakenly left on before reacting.
7. While maneuverability is one of a motorcycle's best traits, particularly at slower speeds and under good road conditions, it's unrealistic to expect a motorcyclist to dodge out of the way always.
8. The stopping distance for motorcycles is about the same as for cars, but slippery conditions can complicate quick stops. Leave more following distance behind a motorcycle and don't cut in front of a motorcycle leaving space between it and the car it's following, as this space allows the motorcyclist to react to potential hazards.
9. When observing a motorcycle in motion, remember there's a person under the helmet—a friend, neighbor, or relative, perhaps. Humanizing motorcycle drivers promotes empathy and cautious driving.
10. A collision with a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian can result in severe injuries due to their lack of enclosure and protection. Therefore, please drive carefully and always look twice for motorcycles.
If you're a motorcyclist and a victim of another driver's negligence, reaching out to a lawyer could be beneficial. As a licensed motorcyclist myself, I comprehend the road challenges we face and am optimistic that this article can contribute to safer roads for all.