According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcylists are 35 times more likely to be involved in a serious traffic accident than drivers of cars. The main reason is obvious – motorcycles unlike cars, offer no physical protection to the rider in an accident. Motorcyclists must drive defensively in order to minimize the likelihood of a deadly collision. Putting aside accidents that are the fault of the motorcyclist, certain actions by car drivers pose serious danger to motorcyclists. One common cause of serious injuries to motorcyclists occurs when a car drive turns left into a driveway, usually a commercial driveway, without noticing the motorcycle going straight ahead from the opposite lane. In that situation, legal fault is almost always with the car driver, who must be aware of oncoming traffic before making the turn. Drivers who follow motorcycles too close are another significant hazard for motorcyclists, as are car drivers who pass the cyclist too close leaving little margin for error if the motorcycle or car swerves to avoid a road hazard or for any other reason.
The oft-heard advice to motorcyclists to wear helmets is sound. Helmet wearing cyclists are far less likely to die or to receive a severe head injury in a crash, than are helmetless riders. There is little data available on the effectiveness of the occasional signs cautioning motorists to watch for motorcycles, though they can do no harm. Given the increasing motorcycle use in the past two decades, perhaps driver awareness of motorcycles and how their visibility and movements differ from cars, should be part of basic driver education and license tests. For their part, motorcyclists would be wise to educate themselves about the types of actions by drivers that put motorcyclists most at risk. In the legal arena, there is undoubtedly some juror bias against motorcyclists. Still, a motorcyclist injured in a collision with a car should always pursue a legitimate claim. If the driver was at fault for a motorcyclists injuries, and the cyclist’s case is well-presented, an injured motorcyclist can gain justice in the courts.