How to Safely Share the Road With Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists love the freedom of hugging the road curves, flying the straightaways, and feeling the wind as they ride along their favorite scenic routes or commute to work or school through the open air. With nothing between the rider and their surroundings, there’s nothing as freeing as hitting the open road — but literally hitting the road is the last thing any biker wants. Unfortunately, the same open-air design that makes a motorcycle ride so exhilarating also makes this method of transportation inherently more dangerous and more prone to fatalities in traffic accidents. Sadly, data from 2020 reveals 5,579 deaths from motorcycle accidents.
While not all accidents are avoidable, by motorcyclists practicing safe riding habits — including wearing helmets and following all traffic laws — and drivers increasing their awareness, it’s possible to reduce the number of accidents involving motorcycles on the roads and minimize the related fatalities.
What Can Drivers Do to Support Motorcycle Safety on the Roadways?
As surging gas prices increase the appeal of using a motorcycle not only for scenic weekend rides but as regular transportation to work and school, the number of energy-efficient motorcycles sharing the roadways with cars and trucks is steadily rising. Experienced motorcycle accident lawyers in New Mexico know the increased risk of serious injury for motorcyclists given the nature of the vehicle. The smaller size of a two-wheeled motorcycle compared to cars and trucks, plus a motorcycle’s ability to quickly change lanes or move between them adds to their vulnerability in traffic.
Drivers can do their part to increase safety for motorcyclists in the following ways:
- Double-checking blind spots during lane changes can protect motorcyclists since a motorcycle’s smaller size and sleek profile makes them easy to overlook in side mirrors. They may even blend in with surrounding objects in side and rearview mirrors, especially during bad weather conditions.
- Never tailgate a motorcycle but instead, leave extra space. Motorcycles react more quickly than vehicles and may come to a stop much faster than a car or truck. Experts recommend leaving a following distance of at least 4 seconds. Rear-ending a motorcycle can be deadly for the rider.
- Increase your following distance and turn off high beams when driving behind a motorcycle after dark.
- Never share a lane with a motorcycle, instead, treat it the same way you would a four-wheeled motor vehicle. While some state laws allow lane-splitting and lane-sharing, the practice is illegal in New Mexico.
- Use your turn signals to warn of lane changes and turns. As an extra measure of care, begin using your signal lights a little sooner than you normally would if a motorcycle is behind you on the road.
- Watch for motorcycles in intersections and follow all intersection traffic laws and signal lights
- Take extra care by taking a second glance to check for oncoming motorcycles before making a left turn. It can be more challenging to accurately measure a moving motorcycle’s speed compared to a car. Some drivers underestimate a motorcycle’s speed and make a left turn while a motorcycle approaches. Our team of New Mexico car accident lawyers have handled cases of T-bone collisions involving a motorcycle and vehicle which are often deadly for the biker.
How a Motorcyclist Can Minimize Their Own Risk
Besides the essential practice of wearing a helmet each and every time they ride, motorcyclists can enhance their own safety on the road by wearing bright colors to increase visibility, avoiding the blind spots of motor vehicles, never lane-sharing, using turn signals, and always giving the brake lights an extra warning flash before braking.