Motorcyclists are presented with some unique challenges. In order to have a safe experience, both riders and other drivers need to understand some of these challenges.
The size of a motorcycle is part of what makes it so appealing to many riders. But it is also what can make riding a motorcycle less than safe at times. Drivers in larger cars or trucks are less attuned to spotting motorcycles and this results in many accidents. In fact, for about 75 percent of motorcycle accidents, the motorcyclist is not the one at fault.
Lack of Protection
In addition to making motorcycles harder to see, the smaller size of these vehicles makes motorcyclists more susceptible to serious injury. About 50 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involved another vehicle. In a crash with a larger vehicle, the motorcyclist is far more likely to be seriously injured or die because motorcycles offer very little protection to riders.
This lack of protection and lack of the same safety features that other vehicles have does not mean that riding a motorcycle is inherently unsafe or that accidents are inevitable. Rather, it means that motorcyclists must understand their bikes incredibly well and must take extra precautions. Before getting on a bike and before riding in regular traffic, it is very important to fully understand your bike, how it works, how to stay safe and avoid accidents, and all of the challenges involved with motorcycles.
The Dangerous Blind Spot
For instance, consider blind spots. Drivers know to stay out of the blind spots of other vehicles and why this is crucial. But the small size of a motorcycle means that blind spots are even more of an issue. If another driver is not looking out for a motorcycle, he or she might not spot the motorcyclist even if they are not hidden in a blind spot. The motorcycle could be hidden by a sign, a bush, a fence, a bridge, pillars, etc. Understanding visibility and how others see and perceive your vehicle is an important part of safely operating a motorcycle.
Visibility is not the only issue to be aware of. Depth perception is also a major factor to be aware of. Motorcyclists should be aware that drivers may perceive their bikes differently than they would another automobile. This is because the size of a motorcycle makes it more difficult to judge how far away the bike is and it is also more difficult to judge how fast it is traveling. Motorcyclists should assume that other drivers might not be making accurate assessments regarding the speed and distance of their bikes.
The responsibility of Automobile Drivers
Automobile drivers are not free from responsibility when it comes to awareness and safely sharing the road with motorcycles. While safe riding largely becomes the responsibility of a motorcyclist, drivers are still responsible for their actions and should be held accountable if they cause or are involved in an accident with a motorcycle. Automobile drivers should always take extra care when driving, watching out for motorcycles, double checking to make sure there are no bikes in the way before changing lanes or turning. Drivers should always stay on the safe side and assume that bikes are closer than they appear. Practicing these safe driving techniques and understanding the unique challenges that accompany riding a motorcycle will help to keep everyone safe, automobile drivers and bikers alike.
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