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How Motorcyclists and Motorists Can Safely Share the Road

May in Ohio signals the official arrival of spring. That means longer days, warmer weather, budding leaves, blooming flowers, and the chorus of songbirds. It also means motorcycles heading out onto Ohio’s roadways after a long winter break.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has designated May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Because of motorcycles’ smaller size and lack of protection, riders face serious risks every time they get in the saddle. While motorcyclists are often stereotyped as driving aggressively and recklessly, the drivers of other vehicles are frequently to blame for motorcycle crashes.

Staying safe on a motorcycle is the responsibility of both motorcyclists and motorists. As riding season revs up, Graham & Graham offers tips for safely sharing the road.

Safety Tips for Motorcycle Riders

Compared to passenger car occupants, motorcyclists are nearly 30 times as likely to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash, according to NHTSA. In addition, NHTSA notes that about 80% of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death. In Ohio, about 12 percent of motor vehicle deaths and 2.5 percent of motor vehicle injuries involve motorcycles, reports the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

While riding a motorcycle is inherently risky, there are a number of steps motorcyclists can take to protect themselves, including the following:

  • Receive proper training: Most states require riders to pass written and on-cycle skills tests to obtain a motorcycle license endorsement. Some riders skip the licensing process, however, and the results are often deadly. NHTSA statistics show that around 27 percent of riders involved in fatal crashes were riding without valid motorcycle licenses. Even if you are properly licensed, a refresher course can be useful, especially after a winter without riding. There tends to be a spike in motorcycle accidents on the first nice weather weekend of the year as riders knock off the rust. The Motorcycle Ohio education program offer a range of courses for riders of all skill levels.
  • Wear a helmet: Ohio does not require riders over the age of 18 to wear a helmet. But helmet use has been shown to substantially reduce motorcycle crash fatalities, as well as traumatic brain injury (TBI). Consider, for example, that of the 157 motorcyclists killed in Ohio in 2017, 107 (68%) were not wearing a helmet, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. And among Ohio motorcyclists injured in 2017, more than half were unhelmeted.
  • Ride sober: No matter what you drive, you should do so unimpaired by drugs and alcohol. Sober driving, though, is particularly important for motorcyclists, who must maintain their balance while coordinating the throttle, brakes, clutch, and gears. Twenty-five percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes are alcohol-impaired, says NHTSA. That’s more than drivers of any other vehicle type. Even if you don’t crash your bike while impaired, you run the risk of an OVI arrest and criminal charges.
  • Drive defensively: Riders should understand that they are less visible to motor vehicles, and expect drivers to do the unexpected, such as changing lanes without warning. At all times, keep a safe distance from other vehicles, maintain a safe speed, use turn signals, be cautious at intersections and in other congested areas, and wear bright colors to increase visibility. Constantly check your mirrors and look ahead to anticipate potentially-dangerous situations.

Safety Tips for Motorists

Collisions with motorcycles are often the non-motorcycle driver’s fault. Here’s how drivers can play their part in helping to prevent motorcycle crashes:

  • Avoid distractions: Motorists can have trouble spotting motorcycles not only because they’re smaller than other vehicles, but also because drivers aren’t specifically looking for motorcycles. Making calls, sending text messages, and other distractions divide a driver’s attention and make it even more difficult for them to see motorcycles.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots: Motorcycles are more difficult than other vehicles to detect in a car or truck’s blind spots. When changing lanes, turning, and merging, check your rear and side mirrors, as well as your vehicle’s blind spots, to ensure a motorcycle isn’t in your path.
  • Leave a cushion of space: When following or passing a motorcycle, give them plenty of space. Motorcycles can easily slow down without braking, so their brake lights aren’t always a reliable indicator of deceleration. They can also accelerate and turn very quickly, so give yourself space—and time—to react.
  • Give motorcycles a full lane: Never pass a motorcycle in the same lane. Even though they don’t take up an entire lane, they are entitled to it, the same as any other vehicle.

In a Motorcycle Accident? Contact Graham & Graham.

Accidents that would be considered minor between two cars are usually severe, with life-changing, permanent injuries, when a motorcycle is involved. Broken bones, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries are unfortunately common results, and they can have life-changing effects. Insurance companies may add insult to your injuries as they offer minimal compensation, or deny your claim by saying you, the motorcyclist, were at fault.

If you, a friend, or a family member has been involved in a motorcycle accident, Graham & Graham can help. We’ll deal with insurance company paperwork, communications, and negotiations so you can focus on making a full recovery. Contact us to schedule a free case review.

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