Motorcycles have the same right to share public roadway with other vehicles. The unfortunate reality, though, is that even low-speed crashes involving motorcycles can result in devastating injuries or death. Therefore, all drivers should keep in mind ways to avoid motorcycle accidents.
The first step to preventing motorcycle crashes is awareness of the most common causes.
Vehicles Making Left Turn into Motorcycle’s Path of Travel
Motorcycle rider fatalities from two-vehicle motorcycle crashes has continued to rise. One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents involve car or truck drivers failing to recognize motorcycles as an oncoming vehicle. When switching lanes or making left turns, vehicle drivers typically look quickly to see if another vehicle is approaching, but still pull out into the motorcyclist’s path of travel.
Sometimes, drivers do not see motorcyclists approaching — either because they are not paying close enough attention, fail to consider their”blind spot”, or perhaps are distracted by their cell phone or other device. Other times, drivers see a motorcycle approaching but have been conditioned to believe that a “bike” does not present the same hazard as a car or truck, and therefore makes the lane change or left tern despite the motorcycle.
Motorcyclists are taught to consider this risk when passing and approaching vehicles. Motorcyclists are taught to look for signs of a possible left turn by vehicles ahead. They are taught to wear conspicuous clothing to capture the attention of motorists. They are taught defensive driving techniques.
Still, prevention of these types of accidents also involves greater recognition by car and truck drivers of this particular hazard. When making left turns in particular, drivers should ensure that a motorcycle is neither in the lane nor approaching.
Hitting Gravel or another Substance on the Roadway when Rounding a Blind Corner
It’s a nice spring day and you’re cruising on your motorcycle, coming around a blind corner, when all of a sudden you hit a patch of unstable roadway. It could be sand, gravel, oil, or just about anything on the roadway, and your front tire hitting it can mean serious injury or death.
The only way to avoid this type of accident is not to hit the unsafe substance in the first place. Motorcyclists are taught to ride around a blind corner at a slow enough pace to allow time to react to unsafe roadway. Enter the corner at a wide angle and ride at a pace where your vision and your ability to take action match.
Motorcycles Struck from Behind
Motorcyclists that are forced to suddenly stop or slow down — perhaps because of a sudden stop in traffic or action of a vehicle ahead — could be in serious trouble. If the vehicle behind does not stop in time, what might be a fender-bender for those inside the vehicle could result in death to the motorcyclist.
To reduce the chance of being struck from behind, motorcyclists can use other surrounding cars as a shield from direct impact. If a car is stopped ahead at a light and there are cars coming from behind, motorcycles can wave around and get in front of the already stopped car to act as a shield. Motorcycles can also pull over to the side of the rode to stop, or get between lanes of stopped cars — essentially, to “lessen” the blow from behind should one occur.
The roadways today are even more dangerous for motorcyclists because of the overwhelming amount of distracted drivers on the roadways.
I have spoken with several police officers regarding motorcycle safety. Their biggest advice for motorcyclists is to not pass a driver whom you believe may be texting, or who is not watching the roadway carefully. Don’t take the chance, it’s not worth it.
In order to avoid the most common causes of motorcycle accidents, drivers of all vehicles must stay aware at all times on the roadway.
To speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney at Passen & Powell, call us at 312-527-4500 for a free consultation.