There’s no question that riding a motorcycle is riskier than driving a car. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that 5,172 motorcyclists died in crashes during 2017. Bikes are less stable than cars and riders have less protection when facing a collision. That’s why it’s imperative riders take extra precautionary measures to stay safe. We’ve put together the top 10 motorcycle accident crash types and outline some steps to help you avoid them.
Car Turns in Front of You
In today’s busy culture, there’s plenty of drivers that aren’t paying attention, are distracted and oblivious to what’s happening around them. Sometimes a car will turn in front of you because the driver didn’t see you at all. It could also be that they’ve simply misjudged your speed. Either way, when a vehicle turns in front of you, it’s time to think fast.
The best way to avoid this situation is to see someone turning before it happens. As a motorcycle rider, you must develop a sixth sense regarding the other drivers on the road. Watch for signs that someone might turn in front of you. If they are sitting at an intersection or there is a gap in traffic, you must be on guard.
As a precautionary measure, you want to slow down and prepare for evasive actions. You also want to evaluate the condition of the driver. Are they looking at you and do they notice you? Also, take a moment to evaluate other drivers around you and the state of the road. You will want to have an escape route in place if you need to use it.
There is never a good reason to lay your bike down in this situation. You have a better chance of surviving if you can slow your speeds and navigate through the bad driving. Even if you can cut back your speed by ten mph, you have a higher chance of making it home safely.
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Car Enters Your Lane with You There
Along with turning in front of you, it’s not uncommon that other drivers will pull into a lane of traffic you are already in. The most common reason that another car veers into your space is that your bike is hard to see. As a motorcyclist, you easily fit into blind spots, and most drivers don’t think to look for you.
You must spend time learning blind spots. You want to know where they are and how to stay out of them. If you can see the driver’s eyes through their mirror, they can also see you. Still, this doesn’t ensure they are looking.
As you travel on the highway, be aware of traffic patterns. If the flow begins to slow down, people will want to switch lanes to get ahead. Get out of the path that seems to be moving the fastest because that’s where everyone else will want to be.
Also, make sure you watch other motorists for signs that they plan to change lanes. This includes turn signals, the car begins to wander, the driver checks the mirrors, wheels start to turn and the driver’s head moves to look around. If you remain aware, you are better prepared to handle the guy that feels your space is his.
You Take a Corner too Fast
You start to make a turn and realize it’s tighter than you thought. You know you aren’t going to make it and you end up crashing.
The obvious way to avoid this situation is to slow down. Don’t push yourself to the limit on a bike. If you head into a corner too quickly, you must trust your bike. Try to ride it out and believe that the bike is more capable than you think.
Take some lean out of the bike by hanging off. As you do this, you will push your bike back up into it slightly. Some motorcycle experts advise to make sure you focus on where you want the bike to go and try to operate the controls as smooth as possible.
You are riding down the road and a deer jumps out in front of you. What happens next? You end up with a fistful of brake and end up lying on the pavement. Your bike continues to topple down the street in the meantime.
Master working the front brake. It’s challenging to learn, but essential because the brake is a powerful tool. It’s the fastest way to alter your speed.
Start by finding an empty lot to practice your skills. Begin with a set speed and brake once you hit a particular mark. See how long it takes you to stop. Continue practicing this as you reduce the braking distance you require. As you try this out, you will feel the front tire begin locking up while the rear wheel lifts off the ground. The more you get a feel for this, the better equipped you are to deal with this in real life.
Of course, if you have a bike with ABS, you won’t have to worry about this as much. Simply squeeze your brake lever anytime you face an emergency stop.
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Car Hits You in the Rear
You stop at an intersection or a stop sign and the driver coming up behind you doesn’t. Instead, he runs right into you at full speed. While a fender bender isn’t usually a big deal in a car, it can lead to serious injuries on a motorcycle.
The only way to stop this from happening is to remain alert. You can stop off to the side of the lane instead of in the middle. You might also tap your brake lever several times to flash your light rapidly. This signal may alert a distracted driver behind you.
Make sure that you keep your bike in gear and leave your hand on the throttle. This way, if you notice someone coming at you from behind, you can get out of their way before a collision occurs. If you are riding and visibility is poor, make sure you remain extra alert.
When a bike drives between two lanes of slow moving traffic, it’s a recipe for disaster. This practice is also referred to as white lining or stripe-riding. It puts cars and bikes near one another, only making a collision more likely. It also leaves the rider with less room to maneuver in.
The only way to avoid an incident regarding lane splitting is to avoid doing it in the first place.
If you decide to do this in stopped or slowly moving traffic, make sure you keep your speed down. Don’t go more than ten mph than the traffic you are passing. Once traffic starts moving, you won’t want to go through the middle any further.
If you see a gap ahead that you aren’t sure you can fit through, don’t attempt it. You also don’t want to pass between two long vehicles sitting parallel to one another.
Riding in a Group
Just like with lane splitting, riding with buddies leads to the same type of accidents. Even though it’s not considered lane splitting, riding in a group poses the same risks. If you ride in a group, make sure everyone understands how to stagger formation. This increases vision and allows bikes to quickly move out of line when needed.
Space is your friend on a bike. Whether you want to cut through traffic or you plan to head out with some friends, the more room you give yourself, the safer you remain.
It’s ideal to ride on a dry road, but it’s not always possible. Sometimes, you are forced to ride when the road is wet and cold. Most bikes don’t operate well under these conditions.
Your best guard against injury is a quality set of tires. If you have a high-quality pair of rubber, your bike should handle well, even if it is wet. Just slow down and maintain control. The last thing you want to do is panic.
Watch the road and avoid any obstacles. Even a utility hole cover becomes super slippery when it gets wet. Remain alert for fluids on the roadway as well. If you see a rainbow substance, move out of the way. The first hour of rain tends to lift oils out of the road and causes them to float. If you can prolong your trip slightly, you might be able to avoid this deadly combination. Instead, consider grabbing some coffee while the oil washes off the streets.
If the weather is bad, you also want to watch for reduced visibility. Even car drivers need more response time and stopping distances when heading out in inclement weather.
Car Door Opens
As you head through the city, you encounter a lineup of parked cars to your right. Unsuspecting drivers will swing open their doors without any care of where you are.
The best way to prevent against this is to stay out of the lane between busy traffic and parked cars. We know it’s tempting to get around traffic this way, but it puts you too close to the parked vehicles. It also makes it more difficult for pedestrians to see you.
Obviously, getting out of the Danger Zone is the ideal way to avoid this. Ride as far from the line of cars as you can. If you end up in a door-opening predicament and cannot avoid contact with the other vehicle, brake as hard as you can. Even if the collision is unavoidable, you want to reduce your speed as much as possible.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that 28%of motorcycle deaths were alcohol-impaired riders. There’s no doubt that alcohol is a major factor in the decrease of bike safety.
There’s no reason to drink and ride. Any impaired driving puts your life and the lives of pedestrians and other motorists in grave danger.
Why You Must Have Safety Gear
After evaluating all the common motorcycle accident situations, it’s clear to see that there’s a lot of danger for bike riders – even the best of them. By adding safety gear to the mix, you significantly reduce your chance of suffering a serious physical injury or worse.
There are only 19 states, including New York and the District of Columbia, that currently have laws requiring all riders to wear helmets. Despite the lack of regulations, it’s clear that helmets save lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% and reduce the risk of head injury by 69%.
Of course, helmets aren’t the only safety gear you need to wear. You should also consider protective jackets, pants, suit, boots, gloves and eye protection in your arsenal.
No matter how good of a rider you are, there are too many variables working against you. Between dangerous road conditions, distracted drivers and the number of alcohol-impaired people on the road, you are always at risk for injury. When you ride, safety gear protects you when the unexpected occurs, and it is worth your investment.
Top Safety Tips While Riding a Motorcycle
Be smart and follow these tips for staying safe on a motorcycle. They might just save your life one day.
- Wear your helmet and other safety gear.
- Follow all traffic rules.
- Ride defensively. Make sure you know what’s going on around you and prepare for danger.
- Assume other drivers don’t see you. Stay out of their blind spot.
- Never drink and ride. Always remain sober.
- Check your bike before any ride. Inspect the tires, lights and fluids.
- Once you mount your bike, check the clutch, throttle, mirrors, brakes and horn before heading out on the road.
- Maintain safe speeds.
- Watch for road hazards and avoid them.
- Don’t ride in bad weather.
- Don’t cut between traffic to get somewhere faster.
- Maintain sharp riding skills. Take refresher and skills classes even if you believe that you don’t need them. All professionals take continuing education classes annually. You should too.
Enjoying the open road on a bike is an exciting and exhilarating adventure if you arrive at your destination safely. Take your time and enjoy your motorcycle responsibly. All of us at Dansker & Aspromonte Associates wish you happy and safe cycling.