It’s common knowledge that motorcyclists are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to crash safety. Even if he is wearing his helmet and leathers, a biker is far more likely to suffer road rash, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, fractures, internal injuries, amputation, and fatal effects that a person protected by the steel cage or a car.
Here are just a few sobering facts about motorcycle accidents in recent years:
- Nearly 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in traffic crashes in 2014.
- Motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities in 2014, with 4,586 motorcyclists killed in traffic collisions.
- Research indicates that drivers of passenger vehicles are at fault in over half of all motorcycle crashes and fatalities involving a motorcycle and car.
Would You Pass the Safe Driver Motorcycle Quiz?
While all road users are responsible for reducing the number of injuries on Texas roadways, drivers are often unaware of the safety challenges motorcyclists face on each ride. We’re kicking off Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month by calling attention to the dangers cars pose to motorcyclists—and helping drivers do more to avoid a crash.
Do you think you know how to drive around bikers? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are your mirrors pointed in the right direction? Improper positioning of rear-view and side-view mirrors can cause drivers to miss approaching smaller vehicles, including motorcycles, scooters, and even fast bicyclists.
- Are you trying to share one lane? Motorcycles should be given the full width of the lane on city streets as well as highways. Motorcycles may be much smaller than cars, but they need the full use of the lane to maneuver around objects, make turns, and stay visible to turning cars and oncoming traffic.
- Do you “see the small things?” About 40 percent of a car’s outer perimeter is obscured by blind spots, leaving more than enough space for a biker to remain unseen. Even when you detect a motorcyclist in your mirrors or by looking over your shoulder, you should take note of any factors that could cause a sudden traffic change, such as his speed, distance, or whether his turn signal is flashing.
- Are you paying attention? Driver distraction is one of the most common causes of all car accidents and injuries today. If you aren’t stowing your cell phone, waiting until you get home to text, or giving the road less than your full attention, you’re placing everyone at risk.
- Do you use your signals? The drivers and riders around you need to know what actions you’re going to take before you make them. Always use your turn signals before merging, changing lanes, and turning—and do it early enough that those behind you can react safely.
- Are you following too closely? Motorcycles don’t need as much following distance as cars; they actually need more. Riders need more time to stop safely in an emergency, so make sure you leave an extra car length (or two) when following a biker.
- Do you make lethal left turns? The most common type of crash between cars and motorcycles is when a biker is struck as a driver makes a left turn. A driver making a left turn should see the entire roadway—and if a motorcycle is approaching the intersection, it’s coming a lot faster than you think.
Bikers: You Aren’t Off the Hook When it Comes to Preventing Crashes
Even if drivers of passenger cars are more likely to cause a collision, motorcyclists should still do everything they can to prevent accidents as well. This includes wearing a DOT-approved helmet for every ride, following all traffic laws, wearing high-visibility clothing, and never riding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Remember: the life you save is much more likely to be your own.
Do you know someone who lives for the open road? Consider sharing this article with them on Facebook or via email. Safety is everybody’s business, no matter if they cruise on two wheels or four!