Driving is always dangerous but nobody is at risk more than a motorcyclist. A motor vehicle provides far more protection than a motorcycle for even minor accidents. For example, a “fender bender” involving two cars isn’t usually a big deal. However, a fender bender at parking lot speeds can throw a motorcyclist off their bike, cause serious injury, and put them at risk of being hit by other cars.
While motorcyclists are required to follow traffic laws and safety rules, they’re still vulnerable on the road. Here’s what you can do as a driver to be vigilant about their safety:
1. Turn right with extreme caution
When you’re stopped at a light waiting to turn right, you might not hear or notice a motorcycle coming up behind you on your right. When the traffic clears, look to your right once more before starting your turn to make sure the corner is clear.
If you don’t appear to have the intention to turn right against a red light, an unseen motorcycle might start their right turn at the same time you do. If you don’t see them, you could push them off the road or hit them.
2. Make it clear when you intend to turn right
Motorcycles are difficult and impossible to see sometimes. Always use your turn signal and angle your car toward the right when you intend to turn. These are the only indicators a motorcycle rider has that you intend to turn right. If you decide to turn right at the last minute, triple check to make sure the path is clear.
3. Look for motorcycles each time you glance in your mirrors
Instead of casually looking in your mirror to get a general sense of who’s behind you, intentionally look for motorcycles coming up behind you or in-between cars.
4. Expect more motorcycles on the roads
Between the rising cost of gas and outrageous vehicle registration fees, more people are adopting motorcycles as a main form of transportation. More motorcycles on the road means more potential for accidents.
Reporting on the Texas Department of Transportation’s accident statistics, Tate Law Offices says motorcycle accidents in Texas have gone up. Recent statistics show 463 motorcycle riders died and 2,022 suffered incapacitating injuries in just one year. The increase in motorcycle accidents on Texas roads isn’t surprising; the number of registered motorcycles has more than doubled in the last decade.
Expect more motorcycles on the road. It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
5. Stop rushing around
Are you constantly rushing out the door and jamming through traffic to get to your destination as fast as possible, only to be held back by motorcycles? Rushing around in traffic isn’t safe for you or motorcycle riders, and it doesn’t save as much time as you think. Unless you’re on a long road trip, speeding by 10mph on trips between 15-30 minutes will only save about 3-5 minutes. It’s not worth it.
When your mindset is rushed, every little thing will be perceived as an inconvenience, which will frustrate you even more. When you’re not in a hurry, it’s not a problem to wait two light cycles for a large group of motorcycles to stay together. When you’re not in a hurry, it’s no big deal to drive more slowly behind a motorcycle on a narrow, winding road.
If you’re frustrated because you’re stuck behind a motorcycle on a narrow mountain road, you’re putting that motorcyclist’s life at risk. Getting frustrated in any situation where a motorcycle is driving legally isn’t a good situation for you or the motorcyclist.
If you’re rushing because you’re always late, leave the house earlier and plan better instead of speeding and putting other people’s lives at risk.
Accept that you need to share the road
If you’re the kind of driver who doesn’t like motorcycles, you’re not alone. Motorcycles that pull crazy stunts or break the law are a common source of complaint for drivers. However, they are equally entitled to drive on the road. While some riders make poor decisions, not all motorcycle riders are bad drivers.
Instead of getting frustrated that you have to share the road with motorcycles who “don’t know how to drive,” reframe your perception so that sharing the road with motorcycles is no different from the requirement to stop at a red light. There are some good drivers and some bad drivers, but ultimately, how they drive is none of your business. The only thing you have control over is how you drive.