When a motorcyclist and a car collide, the motorcyclist is much more likely to end up the victim of serious injuries -- or even die -- than anyone in the car. The reasons are fairly obvious: the motorcyclist has very little in the way of substantial protection from the other vehicle, other cars passing by, or even the road itself.
Is there any way that a motorcyclist can tilt the odds a little in his or her favor on the road when it comes to staying safe? Absolutely. Since motorcycle season is officially starting, consider these four important ideas before you head out on the road.
1. Get a Well-fitted Helmet
If it's been a few years since you bought your helmet, you may want to look over your old one carefully (or ditch it altogether). You need a helmet qualified by the Department of Transportation for safety. In addition, it should be fitted specifically for you -- so don't borrow anybody else's or buy one second-hand.
2. Make Yourself Visible to Drivers in Cars
You absolutely can't rely on your reflexes to save you from an accident when a driver doesn't see you. You probably can't take evasive action in time to make a difference -- if you can take it at all.
Studies have shown that about 30% of motorcyclists fail to take evasive action before a wreck, simply because they don't have enough time. It doesn't matter how highly trained they are, either. The specially-trained driver with full certification fares as badly as the home-trained driver.
It's far better to avoid the need to take evasive action in the first place by being as visible as possible. Additional studies have shown that drivers will literally look right through a motorcycle on the road simply because they don't expect to see one! Put on bright clothing, use a colored helmet, and turn on your brights during the day to make it easier for you to attract a driver's attention.
3. Use Cars as a Shield From Other Cars
This is particularly important in city traffic and at night (when it's even harder to be seen). If you position yourself right by a car's front bumper at stops, you'll avoid being in that driver's blind spot when the light changes. You'll also have the car as a shield from traffic turning your way -- which is critical if you want to avoid getting hit by drivers that won't even notice your bike when they're in a hurry.
What if no car is around when you approach an intersection? If you're alone, hug the curb as much as possible so that you give turning cars plenty of space.
4. Take a Training Course
Even if you've been riding for a while, a training course can help you learn a few ways to deal with the more common road hazards, like cars that change lanes suddenly or drivers who open car doors into an oncoming motorcyclist's way. They also focus on safety, which is an important consideration for any rider.
There's a public perception that motorcyclists are all reckless thrill seekers. If you are the victim of an accident with a car, this can have a profoundly disturbing effect on your ability to collect a fair settlement for your damages. You may find yourself having to prove that you respect the rules of the road. Having a training course under your belt can help you prove that you are safety-minded.
Sometimes, nothing you know or do will prevent an accident. No matter how careful you are, someone else may put you in harm's way. If you are injured in an accident with a careless driver this summer, consider talking to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact Scott, Quinlan, Willard, Barnes & Keeshan, L.L.C. to protect your rights to fair compensation.