Give Motorcycle and Moped Riders a Brake
Actors like James Dean, Peter Fonda and Henry Winkler have transformed motorcyclists into American pop culture icons. And each year, more and more of these icons appear on America’s roadways. Although they may only have two wheels, motorcyclists have as much right to the road as you do. It’s ditto for moped operators as well.
If a motorcycle and an auto were to collide in Moorestown, NJ (near the CollisionMax of Cinnaminson auto body shop), odds are that it was the fault of the automobile driver, according to a recent study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. But why do we non-motorcyclists continually violate the cyclist’s right of way?
Part of the problem is visibility. For starters, motorcycles are harder to see because they’re smaller than cars and trucks. But because they represent a relatively small percentage of the total traffic mix, even when seen they frequently don’t register on many motorists’ mental radar screen. The reason is human nature — drivers tend to look for and recognize the expected and familiar, and on the road that’s mostly other cars and trucks.
Then again, because of their size, motorcycles can dart quickly in and out of an auto’s blind spots: motorbikes are extremely maneuverable, so one may seem to “pop out of nowhere” at any moment. And then there is the fact that larger vehicles – particularly trucks – can hide motorcycles from your view until you’re right on top of them, or vice versa.
Road conditions can force a biker to make sudden emergency maneuvers that may not be anticipated by a motorist following too closely. For one thing, motorcycles have much shorter stopping distances than four-wheeled vehicles, so in a panic stop one can wind up in your lap if you’ve been following too closely. Be aware that pot holes are particularly hazardous to motorcycles, so they may swerve unexpectedly to avoid them. Also be on guard when you and motorcycles are near large trucks, which create strong air turbulence that bikers might maneuver sharply to avoid.
What can we do to increase road safety for motorcyclists and motorists? We need to become more aware. Motorists should be aware of bikers, and bikers should be aware that they may not be seen by other motorists. Remember, motorcyclists want to be seen.
•Approximately three-fourths of all motorcycle accidents involve another motor vehicle.
•Two-thirds of these accidents are caused by the motorist failing to yield the right of way.
•The most common reason given by the motorist involved in these accidents is, “I didn’t see the motorcycle”.
•Motorists involved in these auto accidents are generally unfamiliar with motorcycles.
•These conditions account for 50 percent of ALL motorcycle accidents.Source: DriveAware.org