You may have seen the trending news story and video about a pack of motorcyclists that ganged up on an SUV driver in New York after the driver bumped into one motorcyclist and proceeded to drive over at least two other downed motorcyclists. Though the story has invoked controversy about who was right and who was wrong in this incident, it brings to light the importance of a popular tagline: Share the road.
Motorcyclists and drivers of other vehicles have a shared responsibility to keep each other safe on the road. Studies show that up to 98% of motorcycle riders involved in accidents are injured. Half of them are seriously injured. There are safety rules that motorcyclists must follow to stay safe, but also rules other drivers should follow to ensure all drivers are safe — whether on a motorcycle or in a car.
While not all motorcycle accidents are preventable, many of them are. Here are some general safety guidelines for motorcyclists and other drivers to follow.
Road rules for motorcyclists
- Get proper training before you ride. Many times, motorcyclists involved in accidents are self-taught, or taught to ride by family or friends. Like many automobile accidents, the motorcyclists involved in accidents also have little driving experience. To reduce your risk of being involved in a motorcycle accident that could lead to your serious injury or death, consider enrolling in a skill-building class to train you as a motorcyclist. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a well-known non-profit organization that trains more than 400,000 riders each year.
- Make yourself visible. The majority of motorcycle accidents occur when a motorcyclist isn’t seen by other motorists on the road. As a motorcycle driver, make every effort to be visible to other motorists. Wear reflective helmets and clothing to increase visibility at night. Remember to signal your intent before changing lanes or turning.
- Take extra caution when riding in bad road conditions or on undivided highways. The more you know about the route you plan to take, the more you will be aware of upcoming road conditions, such as pot holes or road construction, which may affect your driving ability. Also, extra caution on undivided highways is necessary, as you have decreased protection between yourself and oncoming traffic.
- Observe speed limits. Riding at excessive speeds doesn’t only increase your odds of colliding with other vehicles, but it can also displace the weight and alignment of your bike.
- Don’t drive drunk. Remember, the same laws apply to motorcyclists as other motorists. Do not drive when impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- Wear your helmet. Motorcyclists are already more vulnerable to serious injury or death in an accident. Wearing a helmet is as important as wearing your seatbelt when driving or riding in a car. Proper use of a helmet can prevent senseless injury or death in an accident. Texas law requires motorcycle riders who are under 21 to wear helmets, but the fact is, wearing your helmet can save your life.
Road rules for other drivers
- Check twice for traffic. The profile of a motorcycle is much smaller than that of a car or truck. A motorcycle’s small size can not only make it more easily hidden from the sight of a vehicle driver, but it can also make it appear further away than it is. The smaller size of motorcycles can also make it difficult for other motorists to judge how fast a motorcycle is traveling.
- Keep a safe distance. Some motorcyclists slow their speed by downshifting rather than breaking. Drivers should allow at least 3 to 4 seconds following distance, and predict when a motorcyclist in front of them may slow down.
- Watch for riders changing positions in a lane. Motorcycles do not respond to road hazards, such as debris and potholes as well as other vehicles might. Because of this, a motorcyclist might often be seen changing his or her position within a lane, to avoid potential hazards. Motorcyclists may also change positions in a lane to be seen more easily by other drivers.
If you have been seriously injured or lost a family member in a motorcycle accident, contact the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare, the Dallas personal injury attorney who has been riding motorcycles for most of his adult life. Hiring a lawyer who also rides to handle your motorcycle case is the right choice.
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