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Every year, thousands of motorcyclists sustain serious and life-changing injuries in car and traffic accidents. Statistically, motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents than vehicle passengers. Part of being a responsible driver is using safe driving techniques when sharing the road with these vulnerable road users. Taking special care around motorcyclists could save a life.
Motorcycles are a fraction of the size of standard passenger vehicles. This can make them easy for other drivers to miss – especially while driving distracted. Before you pull out onto a road, turn, merge onto a highway or switch lanes, check twice for motorcyclists. Taking an extra moment to look again could make all the difference. You may see a motorcyclist that was previously in your blind spot or that you accidentally overlooked.
You should never text and drive, use a handheld electronic device, eat and drink, or daydream while driving. Even a moment’s distraction could be enough to miss a motorcyclist and cause a devastating motorcycle accident. It is especially important to watch for motorcyclists at night. It is easy to misjudge the distance of an oncoming motorcycle at night, as the single headlight or taillight of the bike can blend into the lights of surrounding traffic.
Allow motorcyclists around you ample space to maneuver and react to roadway situations. Give them a distance of at least three feet on all sides, and the length of two cars when driving behind them. Rear-ending a motorcycle could eject the rider from the bike and cause serious injuries. Giving yourself more room to react can also prevent you from hitting the motorcyclist if he or she crashes into a fixed object or lays the motorcycle on the ground. If you need to pass a motorcyclist, use extra caution to avoid clipping the rider. Let the rider know you are passing by using your turn signals.
Left-turn accidents are a common cause of motorcyclist injuries and deaths in Connecticut. Negligent drivers may not approach intersections carefully or yield the right-of-way to oncoming motorcyclists. When turning left, a driver may overlook an oncoming motorcyclist, especially if light from the sun is creating a glare. A driver may also misjudge the distance or speed of the motorcycle. Turning left into a motorcyclist at an intersection can cause a deadly T-bone accident or head-on collision.
Motorcycles are less capable of riding over road defects and maneuvering through dangerous conditions, such as potholes, debris, cracks, grass clippings, wet roads, rain and snow. Compensate for dangerous road or weather conditions by leaving motorcyclists around you even more room to maneuver than usual. Understand that a motorcyclist may need to swerve, apply the brakes or maneuver away from a road hazard at a moment’s notice. Keep your eyes on the road and give motorcyclists enough room to react to crash risks.
Motorcyclists have the same responsibility as other motor vehicle drivers to obey traffic laws and drive prudently. However, not all motorcyclists follow the rules. When driving near a motorcycle, learn to expect the unexpected. A motorcyclist may break Connecticut’s law by lane splitting, for example, or riding on the line between two lanes. Motorcyclists may also be guilty of speeding, rolling through stop signs, riding under the influence and other reckless behaviors. Keep your distance and report any dangerous motorcyclists to law enforcement.
If you get involved in a motorcycle collision in New Haven, contact a New Haven motorcycle accident attorney. Even if the motorcyclist suffered worse injuries than you did as a motor vehicle driver, you may not be responsible for paying for the crash in certain circumstances.