How many vehicles have you seen sporting a “Watch for Motorcycles” sticker?
It’s a gentle reminder for many of us that motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable motorists out there. In traffic crashes, fatalities occur an estimated 28 times more often for motorcyclists as compared with passenger vehicles. Key Findings from 2016 Data Crashstats include a sadly rising rate of motorcycle crashes, up 5.1% from the previous year.
According to the US Department of Transportation, Florida has more motorcycle deaths and injuries than any other State. And somewhat obviously, riders that were involved in fatal crashes were much more likely to have been intoxicated or without a helmet. For Florida’s annual Biketoberfest held in October, it is something for everyone to keep in mind.
Don’t just watch for them. Give them a little extra time and space.
Yes, they can be difficult to see sometimes. But when you find that you’re sitting in one of Orlando’s many parking lots, like Colonial Drive or I4, it’s about giving motorcycles a little more room than you may be used to giving a regular vehicle.
- Motorcycles can’t safely drive over the same bits of shredded tire that a Range Rover can. Give them space for quick corrections.
- Give them extra space when pulling up behind them at stoplights. They don’t need the same amount of time to stop that heavier vehicles do, and you don’t want to be surprised by that and end up rear-ending one of them.
- When in doubt, wait. Let a motorcycle come through a busy intersection rather than trying to cut it close. It’s much better to sit at a light and think, “oh, I could have totally made that turn in time,” than to be wrong and present a life or death situation for them.
Why do Motorcyclists engage in Lane Splitting?
Having a motorcyclist speed by just inches off of your sideview mirror can be startling. It’s also currently illegal in Florida.
But it may help to know that many motorcyclists due this for their own safety in stop and go traffic, and not just to get somewhere quickly. The state of California has made it legal, and there are several studies that show lane splitting may actually reduce the chance of rear-end accidents for motorcyclists. However, there are just as many experts who will point to reasons it increases the chance of an accident, since motorcyclists are traveling in a steady stream of blind spots when they do this.
All arguments aside, if you are a motorcyclist that is found at fault in a collision when you were lane splitting (which is almost a certainty unless you can prove the other driver did something more dangerous), your chances of being able to recover damages are very low.
Motorcycle safety is everyone’s responsibility!
If you’re a motorcyclist, try to be extra visible. Having a bike is a great reason to indulge your love of neon colors.
If you’re a motorist, look twice and give motorcycles the time and space they need!