Summer is in full swing. That means a lot more people may choose to spend their time on the road. And not all of these people will choose to do so in a typical automobile. The rise in temperature also brings a rise in the number of motorcycles you may see on the road. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), there were 199,721 registered motorcycles in Arizona in 2015.
Sharing the road with these vehicles requires a different driving style than sharing with fellow cars. Failure to adjust for these vehicles usually results in devastating injuries due to the car’s clear advantages in motorcycle accidents. Each year, thousands of motorcycle riders are killed in accidents with vehicles. Several thousand more suffer severe injuries after being in an accident with a driver. Many of these accidents are preventable. Motorists must remember that motorcyclists, as well as scooters and bicycles, deserve the same respect and consideration as the other vehicles on the road.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
According to HG.org, “approximately ¾ of motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another vehicle, most often a passenger automobile.” The majority of these vehicle vs. motorcycle accidents are the result of the driver violating or disregarding the motorcycle’s right of way. Many drivers intentionally and unintentionally engage in practices and behaviors that put motorcycle riders in danger.
Motorcycles are smaller than car or trucks, which makes them more difficult to spot. It’s easy for a rider to seemingly appear out of nowhere. Or they can slip into one of your blind spots without your notice. Their smaller size also makes it easier to misjudge the bike’s speed or distance from your own vehicle. Many drivers do not see the motorcycle until it’s too late to avoid a collision. Taking the extra time to double check your blind spots before making a lane change could save someone’s life.
This is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents. Even the most cautious driver may not have programmed their brain to keep an eye out for approaching motorcycles. They may misjudge the motorcycle’s speed or miss it completely by assuming the absence of a car means they’re safe to proceed. An oversight like this can be especially harmful, or even fatal, when the driver is attempting to make a left turn in front of a motorcycle.
Motorcycles are smaller and more nimble when compared to cars or trucks. They are better able to navigate tight spaces between vehicles. However, this does not mean that motorcycles do not need the entire width of the lane. Some drivers assume that the motorcycle’s smaller size means that they can share the lane side by side with the rider. This puts the rider in immediate danger.
Sharing the lane with a motorcycle rider significantly reduces the amount of space a motorcyclist has to maneuver and adjust their vehicle in the case of an emergency. Due to road conditions and possible debris, motorcyclists often need to weave from side to side within a lane. Further, if the vehicle sharing the lane with the motorcycle doesn’t make adjustments with the proximity of the rider in mind, the rider will be the one to suffer. Motorcycle accidents like this can be especially tragic.
Speeding and Following Too Close
Speeding is a dangerous behavior that puts everyone on the road at risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “in 2016, speeding killed 10,111 people, accounting for more than a quarter (27%) of all traffic fatalities that year.” Cars and trucks that are speeding on the roads pose a huge risk to motorcycle riders. A car that is going too fast may not have enough time to realize that the motorcycle rider in front of them has come off the accelerator and is reducing speed. High speed can also make the results of motorcycle accidents more severe and tragic.
Motorcycles change speed and make turns more quickly than most other motor vehicles. They are also more greatly affected by changes in the condition of the road and need more room to come to a stop. As a result, drivers need to give them more following distance than usual. Drivers should increase their usual distance from 2 seconds to at least 4 to 5 seconds. This extra time provides a cushion for both the driver and the rider to adjust to sudden changes.
Wet and/or icy roads can be dangerous for any motorist. However, the danger is usually more apparent to vehicles with two wheels. A motorcycle’s handling is more likely to be negatively affected by rain, snow, or fog than a car or truck. Strong gusts of wind can also cause the motorcycle to swerve and weave unexpectedly.
Almost 23% of Arizona motorcycle accidents in 2015 that resulted in a fatality involved alcohol, according to statistics from ADOT. It’s easy enough for a motorcycle to slip into your blind spot unnoticed in the best conditions. However, being impaired while sharing the road with a motorcycle puts that rider, as well as anyone else on the road, in grave danger. Alcohol significantly reduces reaction time and attention to detail. By the time a drunk driver notices a motorcyclist in their blind spot, it may be too late to evade an accident.
Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents
The vast majority of motorcycle accidents are preventable. Operators of motor vehicles have a duty to be aware of and give proper respect to other vehicles on the road and their right of way. These considerations also extend to motorcycles on the road. Since the majority of motorcycle accidents are the fault of a driver in a car or truck, it is especially important for drivers to know what steps to take to ensure the safety of motorcyclists and other vehicles.
- Check your Blind Spots- Most drivers involved in motorcycle accidents report that they were not aware of the presence of the motorcyclist. Due to their smaller size, it’s extremely easy to miss seeing an approaching motorcycle. By training yourself to thoroughly inspect your blind spots before changing lanes or sudden stopping, you will significantly lower your chances of hurting a rider. When changing lanes or making a turn, always take several seconds to thoroughly inspect your car’s blind spots. Fully turn your head to look over your shoulder to check for any riders that may have ended up in one of the blind spots of your rear-view mirrors. Check twice before making your move.
- Use Your Turn Signals- Just as important as checking your blind spots is signalling your intention to move to those on the road with you. This is where turn signals come in. They are essential in preventing crashes due to lane changing and turning. Always engage your turn signal well before you make your move. This gives the vehicles around you time to adjust their speed in anticipation of your lane change or turn. This time is vital to motorcycle riders as their vehicles take longer to stop and need more room to maneuver than most cars or trucks.
Other Tips to Stay Safe
- No Sudden Stops- As previously mentioned, motorcycles need more time to come to a stop than other vehicles. Any delay in the rider’s reaction time can further increase the time and distance needed to stop. Consider if a motorcycle is traveling behind your vehicle and you come to a sudden stop without warning. The rider behind you may not have time to react and could end up slamming into the back of your vehicle. Motorcyclists have even been launched completely over the vehicle in front of them. At higher speeds, this can prove to be fatal.
- Check Your Surroundings- If you’ve parked your vehicle on the side of a street or roadway, be sure that you thoroughly check your surroundings before opening your car door or pulling out of a parking spot. Motorcycle riders can find themselves severely injured due to this unexpected obstacle. As a result, many riders tend to avoid the lane closest to parked cars. However, this does not mean you should not do your part to ensure their safety as well.
- Give Them Extra Room- Even in ideal driving situations, it is always a good idea to give any motorcycles on the road with you a little extra room. Increasing your following distance when behind a motorcycle and remaining aware of their position in relation to your vehicle could help avoid collisions. Also, keep in mind that motorcycles have the right to use the full width of the lane. Don’t try to share lane space with a motorcyclist.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Lerner & Rowe
We hope that you will use the preceding advice to help you avoid being responsible for a collision with a motorcycle. However, if you or someone you love has been the victim of another motorist’s negligence, whether on the back of a motorcycle or not, contact our winning team at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys. Our lawyers pride themselves on bringing passion and tenacity to every case we work on. Feel free to stop by our offices in person to discuss your claim. Our offices are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 9pm. However, we are always available when you need us. Call us anytime at 844-977-1900 or make use of our convenient LiveChat feature. You can also fill out an online contact form.
We offer free initial case consults and you won’t pay us any fees until we win your case. So don’t wait! You have nothing to lose and peace of mind to gain by contacting Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys today!