3 Ways You Can Prevent a Motorcycle Fatality

A woman who rides a motorcycle is in tune with the universe, a candidate for high adventure.  ~ Celestine Sibley

Those of you who don’t know me, I am 5 foot 2 inch, short, petite, brunette, weighing all of 110 pounds sopping wet.  I am not what people assume a bike chick to be.  Believe it or not, I ride on the back of my husband’s Honda Goldwing motorcycle as often as I can.  Yes, that is me in the title picture.  Keep in mind that a Goldwing is big enough that I have my own seat with armrests and a cup holder, so I am very comfortable.  As true motorcycle enthusiasts we have ridden in over 20 states in the past ten years; we wear all the safety gear all the time; and take several trips on the motorcycle each year. Most of the time riding is very relaxing- seeing the landscape of America from the co-rider’s seat; unless Phillip has to use a defensive maneuver in order to keep another vehicle from hitting us. 


May is when more motorcycles hit the streets as warmer weather entices motorcyclists to get back on their bikes and out on the road. It is also Motorist Awareness Month, a time where special attention is given to educate the public on being aware of motorcycles on the road. Whether you are someone who drives a truck for a living or just a concerned car driver, you don’t want to be the cause of a motorcyclist’s fatality.  Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle and most of the time, the car drivers and truckers commonly cause the accident.  According to the Hurt Report, the driver of the other vehicle violates the motorcyclist’s right-of-way and causes the accident in two-thirds of multiple vehicle accidents involving motorcycles


Here are three ways you can safely interact with motorcyclists that may save a life, whether it is yours or someone else’s.

1. The Size of a Motorcycle is Smaller & Can be Harder to See

Riding a motorcycle on today's highways, you have to ride in a very defensive manner. You have to be a good rider and you have to have both hands and both feet on the controls at all times. ~ Evel Knievel


Because of its smaller size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots or concealed by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc.). We all tend to look and see the familiar...if one rides motorcycles than we tend to notice other motorcycles; the same is true for motorists.  There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcycle – they ignore it (usually unintentionally).


Research shows drivers who also ride motorcycles and those with family members or close friends who ride are more likely to observe motorcyclists and less likely to collide with them. This indicates that drivers can see motorcyclists, whom they might otherwise overlook, if they train themselves to do so.  On family road trips we always pointed out the motorcycles on the highway to the kids and now they in turn point out motorcycles as they, and the grandkids, have been taught to look for them. 

2. Intersections are Dangerous for a Bike So Take Extra Care

I'm not the biggest motorcycle fan - they're cool and a lot of fun, but they're scary as well! ~Taylor Lautner


Motorcycles are becoming more popular, with a 60% increase in motorcycle travel on the road in the last 10 years.  They’re also involved in more crashes. In 2016, motorcycles were involved in 10% of crashes and 16% of road deaths despite making up only 3% of road users. The motorcycle has a smaller profile and therefore it is more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching bike.  This is why forty percent of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections where the bike has the right of way.  The most common reason given by a motorist for this type of accident is, “I didn't see the motorcycle.

Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, when you’re changing lanes but especially when you are turning at intersections.  Remember this statement: “Take a Sec & Double Check!”


3. Pay Attention in the Age of Distraction

In a split second, you could ruin your future, injure or kill others, and tear a hole in the heart of everyone you love. ~ Sharon Heit


With the advent of cell phones and advanced driver-assistance systems built into cars distraction and inattention are considered to be prevalent factors in causing all motor vehicle accidents.  In the time it takes you to look down and press a button on the built in GPS system you could have hit a biker.  The Goldwing has a built in GPS system but it cannot be adjusted while the bike is in motion – a safety feature that should be on all motorized vehicles in my opinion.  Texting, adjusting the music on your MP3 player, eating that burger while you are driving are all distractions to the main purpose of a vehicle – driving safely from one point to another.  The size of any compact car can completely obliterate a motorcycle due to inattention.  Pay attention, watch where you are going, double check before you make that turn – simple but profound ways to keep everyone – biker and motorist- safe.


           Road sense is the offspring of courtesy and the parent of safety. ~Australian Traffic Rule


Throughout spring and summer the number of motorcyclists on the road will increase dramatically. It is important for both motorists and motorcyclists to be aware of one another.  Motorcycles move differently on the roads than other vehicles.  Since they can maneuver easily they go around pot holes and road debris as hitting them can be dangerous.   Remember the motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the privileges of any vehicle on the roadway and we all need to respect one another’s use of the road. When you see motorcycle is in motion also see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor, or relative.  Please, share the road with motorcycles, like the one I am riding on. 


            You can visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for more information on ways to drive safely with motorcycles. 


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