As the new coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic continues into the summer months, many Texas businesses slowly reopening their doors. This new influx of places to go is sending many drivers back out onto the roads to support their local businesses and spend a little more time outdoors. With many drivers heading back onto Texas highways, the importance of sharing the road safely with others is especially important when considering motorcyclists.
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
The month of May is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. During this time, NHTSA encourages drivers to be aware of their surroundings and urges both drivers and bikers to share the road and remain alert.
In 2018 alone, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in crashes. Although this is a 5% drop from the previous year, motorcyclists are still overrepresented when it comes to traffic fatalities. Because of this, ensuring safe practices are being utilized by drivers when sharing the road with motorcycles can mean the difference between a devastating crash and getting home safely.
Sharing the Road
Driving with a motorcycle in the next lane over or near you is not the same as driving next to another passenger vehicle or truck. Motorcycles are smaller vehicles that aren’t easy to spot. In addition to this, motorcycles provide very little safeguards for riders. While cars have metal framing, air bags, and seatbelts, motorcycles do not, making collisions especially deadly. Some best practices for drivers sharing the road with motorcycles include:
Signaling and checking blind spots
While using a turn signal and checking your blind spots are good habits to always use when driving, they are especially important when sharing the road with motorcycles. Because they are more compact, motorcycles may go unnoticed in a casual glance before a lane change, especially in low light or bad weather. Taking extra care to ensure proper signals are used and thoroughly reviewing blind spots can help drivers avoid colliding with an unsuspecting biker.
If driving in a larger truck or van, the blind spots are much larger than those of other smaller passenger vehicles, making it harder to see smaller cars and motorcycles. Be cautious when making turns or changing lanes in these larger vehicles by keeping in mind that a biker might be harder to see.
Allow motorcyclists a full lane when passing
It can be easy for one to think that because motorcycles are smaller and don’t take up an entire lane, that it’s ok to pass them in the same lane. This is not true and motorcyclists should be treated as if they are driving in any other type of vehicle.
Treat motorcycle turn signals with caution
If approaching a motorcycle with an activated turn signal, wait for a moment to see what action they take. Unlike cars, most motorcycle signals are not self-cancelling, so the driver has to remember to manually turn the signal off. Allowing the motorcyclist time to ensure they are turning can help drivers avoid an unexpected accident.
Allow for extra passing and following distance
Many bikers slow down by rolling off the throttle or downshifting rather than outright braking; this does not necessarily trigger brake lights, leaving other drivers without the familiar brake light alert of a bike’s stop. Allowing for three to four seconds of following time for motorcycles can help drivers to maintain their distance. Drivers who cut off or unintentionally pull in front of a motorcycle without allowing enough space can force the rider to over-brake, slide, and fall.
Safety Considerations for Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists should always wear proper protective gear to protect them in the event an accident does occur. Boots or shoes should be high enough to cover the rider’s ankles, while gloves allow for a better grip and help protect the hands in the event of a crash. Wearing brightly colored clothing with reflective material will also make motorcyclists more visible to other vehicle drivers.
It’s important that motorcyclists always remember to ride defensively. Other drivers’ lack of awareness of motorcyclists generally causes the majority of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes. Riders should proceed cautiously at intersections and yield to pedestrians and other vehicles as appropriate.
Riding sober is especially important for drivers and motorcyclists alike. Avoiding alcohol and drugs, including some prescribed medications, that negatively affect judgment, coordination, balance, throttle control, and ability to shift gears can help keep all drivers safe.
Lubbock Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
As more drivers begin to hit the road as summer begins and businesses begin slowly reopening, safety should remain a top focus. Motorcycle accidents can be particularly devastating, leaving riders with severe injuries or even death. At Liggett Law Group, our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys are here to hold negligent parties accountable for the damage they cause. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact us today for a free consultation.