Whenever you hit the road as a motorcyclist, you know you are statistically in more danger than a typical motorist. There are all sorts of hazards out there that can cause a bad motorcycle accident. What are the worst offenders and how can you avoid them?
Driver Turns Left Right in Front of You
Easily one of the most common and perhaps the most dangerous of motorcycle accidents: the negligent left-turn driver. The scenario typically begins with a motorcyclist and a motorist approaching a four-way intersection at the same time, coming from opposing directions. The driver starts to turn left without a green arrow and right in front of the motorcyclist because they didn’t “see” the smaller vehicle approaching. With virtually no time to react, the motorcyclist crashes into the side of their car. To help avoid such crashes, you should always ride with your headlight on, even during the day. Exercise more caution whenever approaching an intersection, too.
Drunk motorcyclists are involved in a disproportionately large number of motorcycle accidents. Many drunk riding accidents are single-vehicle crashes, meaning only the rider is hurt or killed in it. The solution is thankfully simple: never drink before riding your motorcycle – ever.
Larger vehicles changing lanes or merging are also a constant threat to motorcyclists. Your smaller ride will be easier to miss when changing lanes. You might be completely eclipsed in a blind spot due to your smaller size. Never linger in a motorist’s or trucker’s blind spot to help avoid sideswipe accidents.
Fender benders are sometimes just frustrations to motorists, but they can all be downright dangerous for motorcyclists. When stopped at an intersection or stop sign, a motorcycle rider can be rear-ended by a negligent motorist who did not notice their smaller vehicle in front of them. To reduce the severity of a rear-end collision, use lane-splitting – which is legal in California – to get to the front of the intersection, putting larger vehicles between you and any negligent drivers not paying attention.
When a motorist opens the door of their vehicle in front of a passing motorcyclist, it is called a dooring accident. The door of their car might be damaged, but the rider could be severely injured. Prevent dooring accidents by never lane-splitting with parked traffic on one side of you.
Riding together with other motorcyclists can be thrilling, but also dangerous. If one rider makes a sudden motion or overcorrection, then they have a high chance of bumping into another, causing a domino-effect crash. Keep safe distances between yourself and other motorcyclists whenever you ride together.
Locked Up Brakes
Applying the brake too harshly in a car will give you bad seatbelt burn. Doing the same thing on your motorcycle, though, will buck you right off your ride. Practice your braking skills in a controlled environment and get routine bike maintenance to help avoid brake lock-ups.
Turning Too Quickly
Taking a turn too quickly in any vehicle is dangerous, but more so on a motorcycle. Always slow your turning speed, even if the road looks clear of all gravel and other obstacles.
Gravel Under Your Tires
Another major menace to the motorcyclist is gravel and loose debris on the road. Motorcycle tires are great at gripping, but not immune to every roadway hazard. Loose gravel, especially as you round a corner, can cause your lighter, faster vehicle to lose control. To avoid taking a spill on gravel, slow down when rounding curves in the road and be mindful when on backroads and trails.
Southern California is blessed with a bright sun most days, but there are times when the road will get wet and icy due to inclement weather. Limit your trips during rainstorms or on frigid mornings. Remember also that the road is most slippery after the first rain of the season, when oils trapped in the asphalt rise to the surface before being washed away.
Staying Safe on the Road is Everyone’s Job
With a little preparation, you can stay safer on the road as a motorcyclist. Knowing some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is a good place to start, as it helps you do more to avoid those situations. For more information about safety while riding your motorcycle, you can click here to view a helpful PDF from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation®.