The highways around San Diego are some of the busiest and most dangerous in the country. Crowded roadways such as Interstate 5, Interstate 15, and Freeway 67 are infamous for fatal accidents. While driving is a mundane, everyday task – if you drive in the San Diego area – it could be the most dangerous thing you do each day. And one of the most tragic types of frequent accidents are collisions with motorcycles. If you’re a motorist, one of the many ways you can help decrease accidents is by learning some essential roadway safety tips for sharing even the most dangerous interstates with motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are overrepresented in traffic fatalities, according to NHTSA. But did you know there are simple steps that motorists (and riders!) can take to share the road safely and decrease the risk of accidents between cars and motorcycles?
Responsibly sharing the road with motorcycles doesn’t have to be stressful! Keep reading for 11 ways that can help you avoid serious accidents with motorcycles.
- Treat motorcyclists with respect. Motorcyclists are required to follow the same road rules as motorists, and the law requires you to give motorcyclists the same respect you give other motorists. Understanding that motorcyclists have the same rights to the roadway as you do is the first step to safer road sharing.
- Be aware of the unique safety challenges that riders face. Motorcycles are not only less protected than cars, but they are also smaller and less visible – significant disadvantages when it comes to roadway safety.
- Prepare to think like a motorcyclist. Roadway hazards require fast thinking…especially if there are motorcyclists around. Now that you understand some of the challenges that riders face, you can better prepare for emergency conditions. If there are bumps, stopped vehicles, debris, or other roadway hazards, motorcyclists may have to downshift and weave differently than a car would.
- Eyes on the road! Sadly, in 78% of accidents involving cars and motorcycles, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front – often proving fatal to the motorcyclist. Crashes involving motorcycles colliding with other vehicles account for 56% of deaths in motorcycle accidents, according to Nolo.
- Be a defensive driver! Assume that others cannot see you. Assume that avoiding a crash is your responsibility. Assume that an emergency situation is possible at any time.
- Always avoid distractions. It might seem harmless, but taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds could be a deadly decision. While driving: don’t try to pick up items that have fallen on the floorboards or in between seats. Don’t let yourself be distracted by music, your phone, a passenger, or anything else that takes your focus off the road for even a few seconds.
- Expect motorcyclists during left-hand turns. The single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists occurs when cars are making left-hand turns. These collisions account for 42% of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car. Nolo reports that usually, the turning car strikes the motorcycle when the motorcycle is going straight through an intersection passing the car or trying to overtake the car. Remember: a motorcycle’s smaller size makes it even less visible to the turning vehicle. Assume that a motorcycle might try to pass you within the same lane.
- Never drive drowsy! Only drive when you are alert and able to maintain focus throughout your entire trip.
- Always drive sober. Even minimal alcohol levels impair your ability to drive safely.
- Slow Down. Give yourself more time to react to the unexpected!
- Follow the 4-second rule. Always have at least 4 seconds between you and a motorcycle in front of you. The safe following distance behind a motorcycle requires more space than when you’re following other cars. Why? Because motorcycles tend to shift down a gear instead of putting on the breaks, making it more difficult to judge if they’ve slowed down or not. To make sure you’re following at a safe distance, find a static object far ahead and count the number of seconds between when the motorcycle in front of you passes it and when you pass it. If it’s less than four seconds, you probably need to slow down.
Have you been in an accident involving a motorcycle in the San Diego area? Almost always, the vehicle which hits another vehicle – such as while making a left-hand turn – will be found at fault for the accident. However, the fault can shift if the motorcyclist was speeding or in the wrong lane, according to Nolo. Providing the right evidence could save you from being a victim twice!