If you live in a metropolitan area with congested rush hour traffic, you may have on occasion observed a lone motorcyclist patiently weaving in and out of lanes choked with slow-moving vehicles. He is assured to arrive at his destination in much less time than you – sitting in your metal behemoth. You may have reflected upon how dangerous this lane-splitting practice is for the motorcyclist saying to yourself, “That person is going to end up in an accident someday.” And sadly you easily could be right.
In 2017, 5,172 motorcyclists died in crashes according to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The motorcyclist is 27 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a crash. “Crashes involving motorcycles and other vehicles account for 56% of motorcycle accident deaths. In the vast majority of these accidents, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front – 78% of the time,” according to Nolo, one of the internet’s leading legal websites. Often, he or she is catapulted into the air and flung a far distance. It goes without saying the motorcyclist is much more vulnerable. For this reason, a jury may rule in favor of the motorcyclist even if he/she did not have the right of way.
42% of motorcycle accidents occur when a vehicle is turning left in front of the motorcycle and the driver of the car does not register your presence, the motorcyclist, either due to the driver being high, drunk, distracted, or just plain careless. The brain does not process smaller vehicles and pedestrians, and therefore the driver may not even “see you. ” The motorcycle proceeds straight through the intersection, and wham! FYI – use of a hand- held mobile phone while driving is also a major factor in vehicle accidents these days, and contributes to the cause of the accident in 25% of cases.
Having said all that, motorcycle driving is generally safe if you follow all rules, educate yourself and become informed with knowledge and facts.
To prevent all of the following kinds of accidents, one rule obviously applies – DRIVE DEFENSIVELY!
- Car doors opening in front of you.
- Unsafe lane changes.
- Speeding (insane behavior, especially on a motorcycle).
- Lane splitting (sharing a lane with a vehicle, or driving along the white line demarcation)
- Sudden stops.
- Sudden left turns.
- Dangerous road conditions.
Following the “four R’s” will go a long way in ensuring you stay safe as a motorcycle driver:
- Read the road ahead – Increase your awareness of your surroundings, scanning continuously
- Drive to the Right – On a two-lane road ride a little to the right of the center of your lane
- Reduce your speed – Slow down when you perceive danger
- Ride off the road – When confronting an approaching vehicle or a problem, smoothly steer out of the path of potential impact, even if you might drive off the road.
Wearing a DOT- (Department of Transportation) certified helmet will protect your head and brain in case of an accident. A DOT-approved, legal helmet will have a painted symbol on the rear of the helmet.
And whatever you do, never, never drink alcohol or ingest any other mind altering substances before you hit the road.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers a highly-recommended set of motorcycle safety courses for riders of all levels.
Above all, enjoy the road!
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, our experienced attorneys at PSKB can help. Call 505-982-5380 today for a free consultation.