With May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we at Graham & Graham have been pushing safety to all motorists. This push for safety should not be lost on those non-riders, as everyone must share the road. We have helped numerous clients and their families after a varying degree of motorcycle accidents. Obviously, the injuries a person can sustain in a motorcycle accident can range from simple (yet painful!) road rash, to death. However, injuries tend to be worse for motorcycle riders then for those drivers in automobiles who are in fender benders. From representing numerous clients in motorcycle accidents and from my own experiences on the road, I wanted to list the top five issues that I have personally seen to promote motorcycle safety. Since safety goes beyond just that of the motorcycle rider, I have provided two lists, one for motorcycle riders and one for automobile drivers:
- Assured Clear Distance Ahead: In past cases, I have seen where motorcycle riders follow traffic too close, not allowing enough distance to stop in a timely manner when traffic stops ahead. This can lead to a rear-end collision situation where a rider can fly over the handlebars upon impact. This type of situation can also force a rider to attempt to “bail out” to the left or right. Depending on which way, the rider may be blindly maneuvering into oncoming or passing traffic or off of the road. Either direction can cause a collision with another vehicle or a laydown accident.
- Proper Signaling: Motorcycle signals are not always clearly visible in the daytime. Further, most motorcycles don’t have self-cancelling turn signals. For increased safety, many riders will use arm motions to indicate a turn. Arm signals re-inforce a rider’s intention and provide for the proper lookout of vehicles on the road.
- Speed: It goes without saying that speeding is an issue for any vehicle operator. It’s just that consequences for a motorcycle rider are greater in the event of an accident. Speeding can result in the taking away of a motorcycle’s right of way. With an inattentive vehicle operator, a riders own speeding can substantially increase the risk of being in an accident.
- Improper Passing/Patience: Just because your motorcycle has enough room to pass a turning vehicle, doesn’t mean you should and/or that you will be seen by other drivers. Using patience on the roadway is the best practice in order to remain visible to other drivers.
- Road Conditions: Early season riding presents different road conditions then mid to late season. There still may be cinders and debris on the roadways from winter road maintenance. Spring is “pothole season” for all Ohio roadways. With potholes comes road construction. These road conditions should be carefully monitored by motorcycle riders; as one pothole, or going a little too fast around a curve with loose debris can cause a serious accident. Not to mention, the numerous deer that are hanging out on, or near, the roads this time of year.
- Assured Clear Distance Ahead: Give motorcycle riders room. There’s no need to tailgate a motorcycle. Allow enough room to provide for a clear stopping distance in the event the rider is forced to slam on their brakes.
- Audible Signs: Many motorcycles are relatively loud, compared to other vehicles on the roadway. When you hear what you believe to be a motorcycle, make sure to have a heightened sense of your surroundings. However, with this time of year, you should have a heightened sense of your surroundings anyway. Just because you don’t hear a motorcycle, doesn’t mean there isn’t one in your blind spot. It’s never a bad idea to look twice, including a look over your shoulder, before you make lane changes.
- Don’t Underestimate Speed: It’s difficult to tell how fast a motorcycle rider is approaching your vehicle. Allow an appropriate cushion of time to pull out into traffic or as you make a turn. If you have to think about it, wait to enter traffic.
- Don’t Make a Rider Choose: You should never make a traffic decision that will force a motorcycle rider to make and evasive action. When a rider has to choose between difficult options to maintain road safety, there are increased risks of accidents. Putting a rider off balance or forcing a lay down situation is often avoidable if the vehicle operator didn’t put the rider in that position in the first place.
- Left of Center: Driving left of the center line puts all motorists in danger. With motorcycle riders, it could mean the difference between life and death. Many riders are taught to ride in the left tire lane of a roadway. Not maintaining your vehicle in your proper lane could put a motorcycle rider in the position to make one of those bad choices.
With safety in mind, everyone should be aware of the increased motorcycle traffic on the roadways. This is an effort for ALL vehicle operators to acknowledge and promote safety. We encourage everyone to do their part and hope this year there is a decline in motorcycle accidents.