Motorcyclists are at a Distinct Disadvantage when on the Road.
In 2014, nearly 90,000 motorcyclists were injured in road accidents. Although there was a decrease of almost 15% in crashes involving motorcycles, the fatality rate among motorcyclists remains a cause for concern. So, one thing is for sure; motorcycle safety awareness has to be turned into a year round initiative, instead of limiting it to just one month each year.
Motorcyclists are at a distinct disadvantage when on the road; they have smaller vehicles with lower stability and are more vulnerable to road conditions and inclement weather. To compound their problems, they inadvertently end up in the blind spot of larger vehicles. So, it comes as no surprise that nearly 14% of all road accident linked fatalities in the country involve motorcyclists. To understand just how hard motorcycle riders have it, take a look at these shocking statistics:
- – Nearly 5000 motorcyclists were killed in road crashes in 2014.
- – Motorcycles account for just 3% of the vehicles on American roads, yet motorcyclists account for 18% of all passenger fatalities.
- – Of the people killed in motorcycle accidents, 94% are riders and 6% were passengers.
- – Motorcyclists are 26% more likely to die in road accidents than operators of other vehicles.
- – In one third of all crashes involving motorcycles and other vehicles, the drivers of the four wheeler automobiles are at fault.
Motorcyclists have an equal right to share the road with other vehicle operators. Hence, the safety of motorcycles is the responsibility of not only the riders but also the drivers of other automobiles. Unfortunately, for most motorists it can be harrowing to anticipate the moves of motorcyclists.
It is not that these drivers deliberately endanger the lives of motorcycle riders, it is just they often end up not seeing these relatively smaller vehicles. The worrisome part is that motorcyclists are also playing a chilling role in endangering their lives by ignoring the vital safety requirement of a helmet. Even in 2013, only about 60% motorcyclists were found to be wearing their helmets when out on the road despite the fact that motorcyclists who do not wear helmets have a 40% greater risk of sustaining life threatening head injuries.
Safety is the responsibility of all vehicle operators as well as pedestrians. So, here are a few tips for motorists and motorcyclists to keep things safe when on the road.
Watch out for those motorcycles on the road!
Perhaps it is attributed to distractions or the smaller size of motorcycles but while most drivers keep an eye out for other cars, motorcycles often escape their notice. Also, most drivers find it difficult to estimate the speed of motorcycles and the clearance they need to maintain when driving around the smaller vehicles.
The very first step to avoiding mishaps is to understand that the driving pattern of a motorcycle is far different from that of a car. For example, a damaged road, although an annoyance can easily be easily driven on if you are in a car. However, for a motorcyclist even small debris on the road can prove to be dangerous.
- So, if you have a motorcycle in front of you, always slow down. This will give you enough room to halt the vehicle without crashing into the motorcyclist in front of you.
- When traveling side by side, give the motorcycle the full lane.
- Always keep ample of distance between your vehicle and the motorcycle ahead of you.
- At intersections, keep an eye out for motorcyclists who may be making a left turn.
- If there is a large vehicle around your car such as a delivery van, truck or a trailer, remember that these
automobiles will block your view of motorcycles, making it seem like they have appeared out of nowhere. Again, the trick is to anticipate this and slow down and give yourself enough space to maneuver.
- Always check your blind spots for motorcycles, particularly when changing lanes and making turns.
- Make sure to let other motorists know about your intention to turn. This is exceptionally important if you are turning left in front of a motorcyclist.
- Motorcycle signals are non-cancelling unlike cars. This means that a motorcyclist may have forgotten to switch his turning indicator light off. So, instead of stepping on the gas when behind a motorcycle rider, anticipating a turn from him at the intersection, wait to see if he actually takes the exit.
- Never drive when distracted or when in an inebriated state.
- High beam headlights will blind motorcyclists more than the drivers in other cars. So, dim your lights when you pass motorcycles on the road at night.
Remember that what may seem like a deliberate and evasive action to you may just be the motorcyclist trying to avoid a rough patch on the road.
For motorcyclists: Help the other drivers to help you!
Although a large number of motorcycle accidents are owing to the fault of the driver in the other vehicle, there are also incidents in which motorcyclists have jeopardized themselves by ignoring safety requirements.
Just because you are riding on the smaller vehicle does not mean that the responsibility to keep you safe lies entirely on the shoulders of people who are operating bigger vehicles around you. This is what you can do to ensure that you and those around you are safe on the roads:
- – Always, wear your helmet.
- – At night, use reflective tape to increase visibility.
- – In poor weather, wear bright colored clothes that will make you stand out.
- – Do not ride distracted.
- – Check your bike, including the turn signals, brakes and fluid levels before every ride.
- – Assume that the other drivers cannot see you and leave enough room for maneuverability, for yourself and the other driver.
- – Keep your lights on when driving from dusk through dawn.
- – Avoid speeding and recklessly cutting others off.
- – Check the weather before you take your bike out for a spin.
Let us not forget that when involved in an accident, the injuries sustained by motorcyclists are usually very serious and life altering or life threatening.
By following these safety rules, all motorists can play an active role in preventing crashes and enjoy safer roadways.