An article about motorcycles for non-riders
Ever since the days of James Dean and Hunter S. Thompson, the motorcycle has been an integral and legendary part of the American automotive landscape. The motorcycle represents something bigger than just a way to get from one destination to the other. Be it freedom, be it independence, be it a commitment to the space between point A and B, the motorcycle and the image it comes with draws people from every walk of life to its community of riders.
However, there is a downside to all this freedom and independence. The direct cost of motorcycle accidents in the US in 2010 was 16 billion dollars, and some say that is a conservative figure. Motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in an accident than those driving a car. In 2010, 82,000 people were injured in motorcycle accidents and 4,502 died. The reality of the situation is that motorcycles injure and kill people every day.
Most accidents involve motorcycles colliding with cars. This is largely due to the smaller size of the motorcycle and the lack of protection for the rider. Due to their small size, motorcycles are much more likely to be hidden in your car’s “blind spot,” that area between the rear view mirror and the side view mirror.
Also, because of its small size, a motorcycle may look further away than it actually is. It is harder to judge the speed of the motorcycle, sometimes resulting in poor decisions by the driver of the car. When checking to turn or pull into traffic, assume the motorcycle is closer than it appears and is travelling faster than it appears.
Many motorcycle accidents occur because cars do not realize the rider is slowing or stopping. Motorcycle riders often slow down by merely laying off the throttle, i.e. taking your foot off the gas, or downshifting. When a motorcycle does either of these things, the rear brake light does not come on, alerting the car behind the motorcycle. Couple this with the fact that the brake light on a motorcycle is much smaller than on a car and the potential for accidents increases.
Did you also know that turn signals on a motorcycle are not self-canceling? When a car makes a turn, the blinker signal automatically goes off. This is not the same with motorcycles so always be wary when you see a turn signal on a motorcycle. The driver may have forgotten to turn it off.
Surprisingly, the stopping distance for cars and motorcycles is the same. However, on wet or slippery roads, motorcycles are much more likely to loose control of the motorcycle. The reaction time in avoiding an accident is also the same between motorcycle riders and automobile drivers.
All the safe driving habits you should already have:
- paying attention to the road and other traffic
- no texting or using handheld phones
- leaving a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you
- Waiting for all traffic to clear before turning left
You should exercise these safe driving habits with even more caution when in the vicinity of a motorcycle.
At McCready Law, we have seen first hand the serious injuries which result from motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle riders likewise have their own responsibilities while on the road. When everyone drives safely and pays attention to their surroundings, less accidents are likely.