Now that there are more motorcycle riders on the roads than ever before, fatal motorcycle wrecks have shot up 115% in the last decade while fatalities from car crashes have dropped. Every over 350 are killed on Texas roads, earning Texas the distinction of one of the deadliest states for motorcycle riders – not good news if you enjoy the freedom and exhilaration that riding offers. These statistics highlight the importance of “sharing the road” for drivers of cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
Why Motorcycle Awareness Matters
According to the Federal Highway Administration, per vehicle mile motorcyclists are about 34 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 8 times more likely to be injured. This is mainly due to the size and design of motorcycles, which are smaller and more difficult to operate than four-wheeled vehicles like cars and trucks. In addition, roads and highways are primarily designed with passenger vehicles in mind – not motorcycles – which can add hidden dangers on the road.
Any motorcyclist who has spent time on the road will tell you that other motorists are a big part of the problem. Many times vehicle drivers either don’t see a motorcyclist or they don’t bother to look carefully. Non-motorcycle riders also tend to be ignorant about how to account for motorcycle riders in traffic, and can easily make driving decisions that put motorcycle riders at risk.
Finally, middle-aged riders are especially prone to accidents, as their death and injury rates have increased more rapidly than the rates for any other age group. The freedom that motorcycles offer – no steel cage to obstruct the rider’s view – also contributes to the severity of accidents. Motorcycle riders suffer disproportionately more severe injuries and fatalities than other vehicle drivers simply because they don’t have as much protection in a crash.
How All Drivers Can “Share the Road”
The Federal Highway Administration offers tips that all vehicle drivers can use to better share the road with motorcycle riders. Motorcycle riders themselves can also do more to ensure their own safety while traveling America’s roads and highways.
- Allow a motorcyclist the full lane width. Don’t share lanes – despite how spacious lanes may seem, there isn’t enough room for a motorcycle and a car in a single lane. Each vehicle needs adequate room – their own lane – to maneuver safely.
- Always use your signals. All motorists should signal their intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic well in advance of making a move. This allows motorcyclists and other drivers to make the appropriate adjustments to their own driving.
- Check your blind spots. Due to their small size, motorcycles are easily lost in a vehicle’s blind spots.
- Use caution when you see a motorcycle turn signal. Unlike cars, motorcycle turn signals usually aren’t self-canceling. Sometimes riders forget to turn them off, so wait to make sure the rider is in fact turning before you proceed.
- Consider road conditions. Road conditions that might not be a problem for a car or truck can be hazardous to motorcycle riders. Motorcyclists may need to adjust their speed or change position to deal with road conditions like potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
- Watch your following distance. It’s a good idea to give motorcycle riders a greater following distance to ensure they have adequate time to maneuver in an emergency. Tailgating is especially dangerous, as motorcycles do not handle like cars.
- Motorcyclists: wear your safety gear! It can’t be said enough – helmets, protective clothing, and reflective clothing are all important safety items that no rider should be without.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, please contact our firm today and find out how we can help you secure the compensation that you and your family deserve.