For many motorcyclists, spring and summer are the most beautiful times of the year to get out on the bike and explore. Unfortunately, it’s also a dangerous time for riders with many distracted drivers forgetting to look for motorcycles.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), roughly two-thirds of motorcyclist deaths in 2019 occurred between May and September, peaking in August. Over half of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle, many times when another vehicle turns in front of a motorcycle, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports.
Motorcycles are smaller and faster than their four-wheeler counterparts, meaning:
- It’s easier to miss them in your blind spots or behind visual obstacles, especially when distracted.
- When they are involved in an accident, it’s typically more serious, because there’s nothing to protect riders beyond a helmet (hopefully).
The good news is that with a little awareness and courtesy, you can help save motorcyclists’ lives in the months ahead. Here are four easy motorcycle safety tips you can put into practice today.
- Check those blind spots.
Motorcycles can come up on your vehicle quickly and slip into your car or truck’s blind spots. They can also be hidden behind other traffic or features of the landscape, like signage, trees, bridges, etc., making it impossible to see them until it’s too late.
Pay close attention to your car’s blind spots, and double check them when passing or turning. Don’t rely on your mirrors to tell the whole story — remember, objects in the passenger side mirror are closer than they appear.
- Give riders some space.
The stopping distance for a motorcycle is about the same as a car, assuming perfect pavement. Depending on conditions or the weather, the rider ahead of you may need extra time to bring his motorcycle to a stop. If you’re following like it’s a car, you may be setting yourself up for an accident.
Another factor to consider is that many motorcyclists slow their bikes by downshifting or easing off the throttle, meaning their brake lights do not illuminate. Give yourself 3-4 extra seconds of following distance when behind a motorcycle so you have time to react.
- Follow the rules of the road.
Motorcycles are legal motor vehicles and entitled to the same protections on the road as trucks and cars. Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle, and follow all traffic signals and safety rules whether you’re on the highway or moving through an intersection.
- Watch the clock.
Motorcyclists often hit the road in the afternoon after work and on the weekends, so it makes sense that there are more accidents and deaths during those times. On the weekends, nearly 60% of motorcyclist fatalities occur after 3 p.m., according to the IIHS; during the weekdays, nearly a quarter of deaths occur between 3-6 p.m.
If you’re driving later in the day, know that there will likely be motorcycles on the roads. Drivers are often tired from work or preoccupied with getting home in the afternoon, meaning it can be especially dangerous for motorcyclists at these times. Step up those blind spot checks and make sure you’re ditching the distractions in your own car to keep riders safe.
If you don’t own a motorcycle, you may not totally understand the unique dangers facing riders, but know that they appreciate your attention. Life is worth the effort. Distracted driving is not. Take the Worth It pledge, and help reduce motorcycle fatalities.