The number of motorcyclists killed in accidents has risen every year for the past 14 years, except for 2009. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of motorcycle accident deaths doubled from 2000 to 2010. In 2011 alone, 4,612 motorcyclists died in accidents in this country. That number represents 14 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year, even though motorcycles accounted for only about 3 percent of all registered vehicles.
Owners of motorcycles know too well the risks involved in sharing the road with large trucks and cars. Motorcyclists often have little time to react to the negligent acts of drivers of larger vehicles.
May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Keeping that in mind, here are few tips for operators of cars and trucks to responsibly share the road with motorcyclists.
• Avoid distracted driving. Motorcyclists face a higher risk of not being seen by other drivers. But when a driver of a truck or a car is looking at his or her phone rather than the road ahead, a motorcycle operator’s chance for catastrophic injury or death is even greater.
• Be alert to adverse road or weather conditions. Rain or small pot holes may be minor aggravations for most drivers, but can pose significant dangers to motorcyclists. Motorcycle operators may need to slow down, swerve or stop, so be alert when motorcycles are nearby and the weather or road are questionable.
• Continually monitor your side mirrors and blind spots for motorcyclists.
• Leave plenty of room on the side or behind a motorcycle. Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle rider and avoid following motorcycles too closely.
As the statistics indicate, more motorcyclists are dying on our nation’s roads each year. Obviously, then, not all drivers are following the responsible behaviors listed above at all times. When they don’t, and a motorcyclist is severely or fatally injured, the responsible party should be held accountable.