One of my primary objectives as a motorcycle accident lawyer is to not just settle cases, but to help individuals prevent motorcycle accidents in the first place.
Often times a motorcycle accident is not caused by the motorcyclist themselves. Other automobile drivers are typically the cause. Most of us have never ridden a motorcycle and probably never will. Yet each of us will encounter motorcycles while driving on highways and back roads, which means we all have a responsibility to watch out for people who do ride motorcycles.
Top 3 Ways to Keep Motorcyclists Safe
Merge with caution
Many motorcycle accidents occur when a motorist fails to see a motorcycle rider in their neighboring lane. Said another way, people merge into a lane, cutting off the motorcyclist, which can cause a variety of different kinds of accidents.
“Check twice to save a life” could not be a more appropriate saying for this particular scenario. I will be the first to admit that I am most accustomed to seeing other cars in my mirrors, and sometimes find motorcyclists difficult to see. The smaller physical size of a motorcycle makes motorcycles much less visible in rear view mirrors.
To help combat that problem. be sure to check your rear view mirrors at least twice before switching lanes. Try to be methodical about it, instead of simply “going through the motions” without thinking. Keep in mind how difficult motorcyclists can be to see in rear view mirrors, compared to ordinary vehicles.
Also keep in mind that motorcycles fit perfectly into a car’s blind spot. A motorcycle rider can be completely “invisible” and remain in a car’s blind spot for much longer than ordinary vehicles. Always check your blind spot before merging, and check it twice if you know that a motorcyclists is in the vicinity of your vehicle.
Be sure to signal as well before merging into another lane. If you happen to not see a motorcyclist who may be hanging in your blind spot, your signal may be the only warning the rider has before you switch lanes. This is why it is imperative to always signal, even if you believe you are alone on the road.
Watch for one light at night
Each year my firm handles many night time motorcycle accidents. Riding motorcycles at night is much more dangerous than riding during the day.
For automobile drivers, motorcycles are difficult to spot during the day, but are extremely difficult to spot during the night. The key is to be aware of one light on the roadway. If you see only one headlight in your rear view mirror, then you either have a motorcyclists approaching, or a car missing a head light.
Motorcyclists are encouraged to make themselves as visible as possible. Yet many choose to wear all black and have a black bike to begin with. Often times that one lone light will be the only indication of a motorcyclists in your area of the road.
Also remain aware of the motorcyclist’s turn signals, especially at night. Some motorcycles do not have self-cancelling turn signals. So in other words the turn signal may be blinking, yet the motorcyclists has no intention of turning. Give the motorcyclist extra room and do not assume that they will soon be turning, even if they have a turn signal on.
Always allowing motorcyclists extra space on the road is a good habit to get into-especially at night.
Be aware of road conditions
Poor road conditions can make driving difficult for automobile drivers. For motorcyclists, poor road conditions amplify the inherent danger.
“Minor annoyances” for you, such as a grooved pavement, can cause major problems for motorcycle riders. Gravel, wet surfaces and train tracks may cause the motorcyclists to react, and suddenly maneuver to avoid the obstruction. You in the car, on the other hand, may encounter no trouble with these types of obstacles.
As mentioned above, a good rule of thumb is to allow a motorcyclist more space than you normally would allow another vehicle. When following behind a motorcycle, allow them 4 to 5 seconds of space. This will allow the motorcyclists extra time to stop or maneuver to avoid an obstruction.
Poor weather conditions further amplify the danger of traveling via motorcycle. Proceed with extra caution when traveling in poor conditions, especially if motorcycles are present on your particular stretch of roadway.
Common sense can go a long way in preventing motorcycle accidents. Taking it slow and remaining aware while driving are two simple, yet incredibly effective ways of ensuring the safety of your fellow motorcycle rider.
Lets make a group effort this spring, summer and fall to make our roads a safe place for motorcycle riders.
Kevin P. Landry