The temperatures have warmed up and more motorcycle riders are hitting the streets. To get car and truck drivers to be on the lookout for them, the Texas Department of Transportation has just launched a campaign with an important message for us motorists. Look twice for motorcycles.
The campaign aims to reduce the thousands of motorcyclists fatally stuck or injured at intersections and crossing from adjoining lanes.
This message also applies to the increasing number of people getting hit by vehicles as they are riding bicycles.
Sure, motorcycles and bicycles are smaller and sometimes more difficult to see. However that does not excuse the motorist from making certain the coast is clear before changing lanes, crossing an intersection, passing, turning or u-turning. Motorcyclists have the right to be on the road and motorists have the obligation to share that road.
I am about to file a lawsuit on behalf of a man who was seriously injured when a driver crashed into his motorcycle, seriously injuring him. The driver said she never saw him. I’ve heard many excuses like this one during my 37 years of representing injured motorcyclists.
The numbers are shocking: 493 motorcyclists died and 2,006 sustained severe injuries last year in traffic accidents. About half of those crashes involved another car or truck. In the most common scenarios, the vehicle collides with the motorcycle at an intersection or while changing lanes.
On Wednesday evening last week, a motorcyclist was struck and killed at the intersection of Rufe Snow Drive and Iron Horse Boulevard in North Richland Hills. The SUV stopped at a stop sign before heading onto Rufe Snow Drive and collided with the biker. The motorcyclist died tragically at the hospital soon after, while the SUV driver walked away without injuries.
This stretch of road in North Richland Hills was the scene of another fatal motorcycle accident last December when the driver of a Ford lost control and swiped a motorcyclist in his path. In that case, the motorcyclist also died while the motorist suffered only minor injuries.
These collisions demonstrate why keeping an eye out for motorcyclists is so crucial. In collisions with larger vehicles, the motorcyclist is almost always the loser. A bike simply doesn’t offer the same types of equipment as a car, truck or SUV to protect against injuries during a crash and to avoid an accident to begin with.
As an older guy riding a road bicycle in the early morning before work or on weekends trying to stay fit, this is truly a scary thought.
What does “share the road” actually mean? Or to “look twice?” Basically, by just being aware that motorcyclists exist and acting with a little extra diligence, you can avoid being part of the dismal motorcycle crash statistics.
Here are a few easy ways we drivers can make a difference:
Because motorcycles are smaller, they can be easy to miss. Look a second time before proceeding into an intersection or changing lanes to be sure the rider is not in your blind spot.
Predictability is important for both you and the motorcyclist. Use your turn signals to alert others of your intention to change lanes and double-check your blind spot.
Tailgating is dangerous with any vehicle, but the risks increase substantially when following a motorcyclist. This is true, not just at highway speeds, but while driving slowly in traffic congestion or on residential roads.
A visual phenomenon makes a motorcycle appear farther away and its speed difficult to judge. Therefore, always assume it’s closer and travelling faster than you think and adjust your own actions accordingly.
Do not squeeze in beside a motorcyclist that is occupying only a portion of the lane or attempt to pass the cyclist by using part of his lane. Instead pull in behind him as you would with any other vehicle.
The two most dangerous encounters between motorcyclists and motorists are at intersections and while changing lanes. Remember to look twice — such a simple rule that could make the world of difference.
As they say, share the roads, y’all.