Motorcyclists across the Rio Grande Valley understand that the biggest threats to their safety are the drivers of cars, pick-ups, SUVs and commercial trucks. Those drivers simply cannot be counted on to look for or notice motorcycles, or to use caution or even common sense as they share the streets, roads and highways of our corner of Texas.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes and how you can spot potential crashes (and avoid them).
Most common crash cause
Most experienced motorcycle riders will tell you that the most common cause of crashes is a vehicle that turns left in front of you. The driver doesn’t see you, or misjudges your speed or distance, and pulls out in an intersection or from a parking lot to make a left turn, putting their much larger and heavier vehicle directly in your path.
Some believe that before they turn, drivers look both ways for other cars, but not for motorcycles. When they don’t see a car (or pick-up or SUV), they assume the path is clear. However, a university study published last year suggested that some drivers will look both ways, actually see an oncoming vehicle, but moments later suffer a lapse in short-term memory and thus fail to recall the presence of the vehicle they just spotted.
Those drivers were five times more likely to forget a motorcycle than a car, the researchers stated.
- How to avoid these left-turn crashes: look ahead as you approach an intersection, slow down, put your hands on your brakes and be ready to take evasive action.
Lane changing danger
Another all-too-common cause of motorcycle accidents: a car traveling in the same direction in the lane next to you suddenly veers into your space.
- How to avoid these lane-change dangers: be aware of blind spots and do your best to spend as little time as possible in them. Remember, if you can’t see the driver’s eyes in their mirrors, they can’t see you. Of course, even if you can spot their eyes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re looking.
Notice, too, vehicle turn signals or driver’s head movements indicating they’re looking at their mirrors or glancing at your lane.
Struck from behind
You’ve stopped at an intersection or stop sign or crosswalk and the driver behind your cycle fails to notice and hits you full force from behind.
- How to avoid these rear-end crashes: coming to a stop near the edge of your lane can take you out of the direct path of the vehicle coming from behind. Also, rapidly tapping brakes sends a more noticeable visual signal to those following you. Lastly, keep your hand on the throttle and an eye as they approach in case they appear ready to hit you.
Of course, there is no guaranteed way to avoid all careless, inattentive or otherwise negligent drivers. But an abundance of caution and a well-developed sense of situations in which crashes are more likely will help you enjoy safe rides today and tomorrow.