Every year, millions of motorcyclists head out on the highways to enjoy the open road.
But while the thrill of cruising on two wheels has definite appeal, it also has a potential downside: safety. The truth is, motorcycle riders face much bigger safety risks than drivers of cars and trucks. In fact, estimates from the federal government show the number of deaths per mile traveled on motorcycles in 2015 was nearly 29 times the number of deaths in cars.
Why so high? Some of this risk can be attributed to the lack of protection motorcycles provide, especially when compared to an enclosed vehicle. But it’s also clear that other drivers play a role, too.
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, more than half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. And most of the time, the car or truck driver – not the motorcyclist! – is at fault.
So, what can you do? As drivers of cars and trucks, it’s our job to be aware of motorcyclists. So here are four things to remember when we share the road:
- Be aware of motorcyclists during warmer months. The warmer the weather, the more likely you’ll be driving alongside riders. Awareness can help you react more quickly to your surroundings.
- Check your blind spots. Twice. Remember that motorcycles are much smaller than the car you drive, so they’re not always easy to spot. Checking your blind spots before turning or changing lanes will help you keep motorcyclists safe. In fact, when Erie Insurance recently surveyed riders on their biggest pet peeves, the No. 1 annoyance was drivers who do not check their blind spots before changing lanes.
- Don’t get too close. Always maintain an extended safe distance when following a motorcycle. Motorcycles are capable of making a much quicker stop than your car, and sometimes they’ll slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle – so you may not see their brake lights. Make sure you are leaving enough distance to stop safely and avoid a possible collision. (Guess what? In our survey, riders listed “drivers who tailgate” as a pet peeve, too.)
- Stay in your lane. Motorcycles are allowed the full use of one lane. You should always give riders as much space as possible. Never veer over to share a lane with them.