Motorcyclist Safety: It's a Two-Way Street!
Each year in Maryland, more than 60 motorcyclists are killed in traffic crashes. That's more than 60 people who will never make it home to their loved ones. Another 1,700 riders and passengers are injured each year, on average. Drivers and Riders have the responsibility to share the road safely. Whoever is at fault in the crash, the motorcyclist always loses. Because the operator of a motorcycle is not protected by the vehicle like the occupant of a car, motorcyclists are injured in more than 80% of crashes. To prevent motorcycle crashes, both drivers and riders have to follow the rules of the road and pay attention to some important safety tips.
Riders – Protect yourself with Knowledge, Skills and Attitude
Click here to see how awareness and training can keep you upright and rolling.
Drivers – You Can Save a Life by Looking Twice for Motorcycles
Motorists need to be aware of how their actions can impact the safety of motorcyclists and learn to share the road safely with motorcyclists. When there is a crash involving a car and a motorcycle, the car driver is at fault more than half of the time. Many motorcycle crashes happen because the driver does not "see" the motorcyclist.
Why Don't Drivers See Motorcyclists?
Motorcyclists are Smaller than Cars
As a driver you probably tend to look for other cars and trucks, not for motorcyclists. And, because a rider and their motorcycle are smaller than a car, they can be harder to see. Motorcycles fit all too easily into a driver's blind spots.
When we talk about blind spots while driving, we usually think about the places we can't see with our mirrors. But did you know that the human eye contains a "blind spot?" There is a portion of the retina (the area of your eye that senses and processes the images that we see) that contains no light-sensitive cells (where the optic nerve attaches to the retina). We normally don't notice it because we see things with both eyes and our brain "fills in the blank." But when vision from one eye is blocked—by a utility pole or tree, for example—a small object might disappear completely from view. Take this simple test to discover your blind spot!
The "A" Pillar
Pillars are the solid vertical or near vertical supports of an automobile's roof. The "A" pillars are the two supports in the front of the car, between your windshield and your front windows. The size and shape of A pillars varies from car to car, but they all create a blind spot in your forward vision while driving. Usually this isn't a problem, but this blind spot could obstruct your view of an oncoming motorcyclist.
Start "Seeing" Motorcyclists
1. Don't think of it as motorcycle; think of it as a motorcyclist, a person. Motorcyclists come from all walks of life. They have family and friends who want to see them make it home, just like you do. Most motorcyclists do a good job following the rules of the road. They do not want to be hit just as much as you don't want to hit them!
2. Start to notice motorcyclists. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don't "recognize" a motorcycle. Intentionally look for motorcycles, especially when checking traffic at an intersection. As you drive, take notice of how many motorcyclists you see, the different sizes and shapes of motorcycles. You may be surprised how many motorcyclists you see!
3. A motorcycle may look farther away than it is, due to its size. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle's speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, a motorcycle may be closer than it looks. Look twice to gauge how fast it's traveling, and if you’re at all unsure if it's safe to proceed, let the motorcyclist pass.
4. Give motorcyclists room. Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, which do not activate the brake light. Following motorcyclists at a safe distance, say 3 or 4 seconds.
5. Motorcyclists adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
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