Sharing the road with motorcyclists

Motorcyclists are at a higher risk of injury and death due to a car accident, which is why drivers should try to leave space, communicate and pay attention.

It is not uncommon for drivers to see motorcyclists out on the West Virginia roads during the warmer seasons. Even though cars and motorcycles routinely share the road, a high number of car accidents still involve bike riders. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,668 motorcyclists died because of car crashes and another 88,000 were injured in a single year. People who ride motorcycles are about 26 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those in cars or trucks.

Leave space

Space is an important component when driving. Extra space in front of a vehicle may give a driver enough time to react to an abrupt stop. While it can be smart to leave space between all types of vehicles on the road, it is especially important for motorcyclists. For example, if a car follows a motorcycle too closely and bumps the back wheel of the bike, the biker may lose control of his or her ride and sustain substantial injuries. Motorcyclists should also strive to leave plenty of space in order to avoid running into the back of a car or truck.

Similarly, motorcyclists need space on each side. Potholes, patches of sand and debris can create large and dangerous obstacles for riders. For this reason, other drivers should avoid passing a motorcycle in the same lane in order to give bikers enough space to maneuver around obstacles.

Communicate

Drivers traveling down state highways likely cannot hold a conversation with a stranger in another vehicle, but there are other ways for them to communicate than by talking. Blinkers and brake lights can alert surrounding drivers to the intentions of a particular vehicle. If a car uses a right blinker, for example, a following motorcyclists will know not to try to pass the car on the right side. Making eye contact with someone on a motorcycle can let him or her know they are seen.

Pay attention

Motorcycles are small vehicles that can be easy to overlook. All drivers need to pay attention to their surroundings in order to avoid car accidents. Other drivers may need to pay attention to the following when dealing with someone on a motorcycle:

  • Vehicles moving into a blind spot.
  • Riders disobeying traffic laws.
  • Motorcycles slowing down without brakes.

Everyone on the road should also limit their distractions to ensure they know what is going on around them. This could mean resting before a road trip, ignoring a cellphone or leaving a radio on its current station.

All drivers can play a role in reducing motorcycle-related deaths and injuries in West Virginia. When an accident does take place, it may be beneficial to talk with a knowledgeable attorney.