May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, which is intended to bring attention to the high rate of accidents, injuries and fatalities among motorcyclists. Per miles traveled, motorcyclist fatalities occur 28 times more often than fatalities of passenger car occupants in traffic accidents, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. These eye-opening statistics highlight just how vulnerable motorcyclists are on our roads and highways.
What can be done? Drivers of cars and other vehicles can do their part to help keep motorcyclists safe by sharing the road. Motorcycle crashes that involve another vehicle are responsible for nearly half of motorcyclist deaths.
Tips for Sharing the Road
Here are five important tips for drivers on how to share the road with motorcycles:
- Check and recheck mirrors and blind spots. When changing lanes and merging into traffic, in addition to checking your rearview and side mirrors, also check and double-check all around you. Motorcycles are small, which makes them more difficult to see. They also can accelerate and maneuver quickly and may be upon you sooner than you expect.
- Use turn signals. Always use your turn signals when turning and give motorcycles behind you plenty of warning and time to slow down or otherwise react to your turn to avoid pileups. When you are turning left, be extra cautious in looking ahead for motorcycles that may be quickly approaching.
- Look for turning motorcycles. Not all motorcycles have self-canceling turn signals. Many older ones do not. If a motorcyclist is driving with a turn signal on, they may be planning to turn or may have forgotten to turn off their signal. Give them plenty of space in case they suddenly turn.
- Keep a safe cushion of space. Because of their small, compact size, motorcycles can react and stop more quickly than other vehicles. You risk rear-ending them if you follow too closely. It’s a good idea to keep a cushion of at least four seconds between your car and the motorcycle ahead of you. Also, many times motorcyclists downshift to slow down instead of braking, so you may not see brake lights when a motorcycle is slowing. Always allow plenty of space.
- Give motorcycles their own lane. Motorcycles are legally entitled to their own traffic lane, just like other vehicles. Even if it looks like there is plenty of room in a lane, stay out of the motorcycle’s lane to avoid endangering the rider.
For Motorcyclists in New York
In New York State, an average of 166 people die each year in motorcycle crashes, according to the state’s Department of Health. On crowded New York City streets, a motorcycle can be a convenient way to get around. But to get where you are going safely, be sure to always follow some basic safety rules. Wear a helmet, which is the law in the state; don’t drive while impaired; always adhere to traffic laws; and, very importantly, drive defensively, assuming that other drivers don’t see you.
Contact a New York City Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle crash and need help, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC are here to assist you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.