As a driver, you have a legal responsibility to look out for the safety of all other roadway users – including motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Motorcyclists may assume a certain amount of risk, but they do not assume the risks of negligent, aggressive or reckless drivers. Causing a motorcycle accident could make you financially liable for the victim’s damages. It could also result in criminal charges if you broke one or more traffic laws in causing the collision. Do your part to make the roads safer for everyone by learning a few safety tips when driving near motorcycles.
Keep Your Distance
The more space you give a motorcyclist, the better. Crowding a motorcyclist not only endangers his or her life but could also put the motorcyclist on edge. This could lead to actions the motorcyclist typically would not take under calm conditions, such as jerking the handlebars or veering to the side to avoid a collision. Leave at least a car’s length of space between your vehicle and a motorcycle. When passing a motorcycle, count at least four seconds of passing distance before getting back over. If you cut a motorcyclist off too closely, he or she could collide with the back of your vehicle. A rear-end collision could be fatal for a motorcyclist.
Many drivers have preconceived notions about or biases against motorcyclists in Texas. They may assume all motorcyclists are daredevils or reckless drivers. Although this is often not the case, it can lead to driver aggression toward motorcyclists. Being rude or aggressive toward a motorcyclist could ultimately cause a crash. Behaviors such as tailgating, weaving between cars, racing, honking, cutting a motorcycle off or road rage driving could prove fatal for a vulnerable motorcyclist and his or her passengers. Keep your cool when operating around a motorcycle. Remember, every driver makes mistakes. Do not let a moment of anger or frustration make you do something you will regret forever.
Look Twice Before You Turn
Left-hand turn accidents are a common cause of motorcyclist deaths in Texas. If a motorcycle collides head-on with the side of a larger vehicle while going 40 to 60 miles per hour, it could easily be fatal for the motorcyclist. Unfortunately, many drivers negligently turn left into oncoming motorcyclists. They may not see the motorcycle, or else misjudge the motorcycle’s speed or distance. These mistakes could end a life. When making any turn, especially turning left in front of oncoming traffic, check twice for motorcycles. The smaller vehicles can be easy to miss, especially at night. Double-checking could be enough to spot one and prevent a serious wreck.
Check Your Blind Spots
Every vehicle has blind spots, or areas of the road around you your mirrors do not show. It is worth taking an extra look over your shoulder to make sure no motorcycles are riding adjacent to you before you merge onto the freeway or switch lanes. A motorcycle could easily hide in a blind spot, resulting in a lane-change accident. Turn your blinker on, check your mirrors, glance over your shoulder and merge slowly and carefully when changing lanes. This will allow you to look for oncoming motorcycles, as well as give motorcyclists enough time to move out of your way if you do fail to see them.
It helps motorcyclists – and everyone on the roadway – if you obey traffic laws and keep your actions predictable. Hopefully, the motorcyclist will extend the same courtesy to you, but if not, it is still your responsibility to follow the rules. Do not speed, ignore the right-of-way at intersections, tailgate, turn without signaling or break other laws that could endanger the lives of others. Obeying traffic regulations could keep your actions predictable to surrounding motorists, including motorcycle riders. This can help everyone safely navigate around each other. Mutual respect and appreciation for the law are important in preventing motorcycle accidents.