Sharing the Road with Motorcycles
Posted on August, 18th 2017
Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 35 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash, and eight times more likely to be injured. While there are a number of things motorcyclists can do to enhance their own safety, a large number of these collisions occur with other vehicles who are unsure of how to navigate the road around a motorcycle. To remedy this, the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program released a video to raise awareness about sharing the streets. This eight minute video follows a teen driver who gets a “crash course” lesson in how to deal with motorcyclists, from a person he just hit with his vehicle. The video focuses on important facts to remember, and best practices to avoid future crashes. The lessons can be broken down into three key lessons for other drivers:
Visibility- “ Motorcycles are narrower and smaller than other vehicles. This means it’s hard to pick them out of the background when they are coming head on, and as such, makes it harder to judge their speed and distance. Also, smaller headlights and taillights make it more difficult to determine when a vehicle is braking. They can disappear and reappear in and out of blind spots easier than other cars. While some riders where bright colors to help be identified, many also where black; being on the lookout for both is critical to remaining safe.
Since motorcycles are not as common as cars, many times drivers don’t expect to see them. When you don’t expect to see something, sometimes it’s easy not to register its appearance, even when it’s right in front of you. Try this awareness test to see how easy it is to miss things in plain sight when they are out of mind.
Vulnerability- Motorcycle riders are exposed far more than passenger vehicles, and are therefore vulnerable to everything. A crash that would lead to a small dent for a passenger vehicle could easily be fatal for a motorcyclist; they have no airbags, steel cages, seatbelts, or crumple zones. Regardless of the nature of the crash, a motorcyclist will almost always be more seriously injured. Furthermore, weather hazards like rain and snow, or poor pavement conditions or gravel roads also reduce the amount of control a motorcyclist has. Be sure to exercise extra caution under these conditions.
Maneuverability- Motorcycles have faster acceleration and braking than passenger vehicles, meaning the typical start/stop times you are expect are typically shortened. Riders will also change position in roadways, in an attempt to be seen better, but this leads to its own hazards as well. Even though a motorcycle may be smaller than a vehicle, they are still entitled to the entire lane. Often times passenger vehicles encroach on motorcyclists in ways they would not do for passenger vehicles. Always leave plenty of room between your vehicle and motorcycles.
Please, watch and share this video with your friends and family. You don’t have to be a motorcyclist to learn about the importance of sharing the road.
**Images are screen captures from the video