A common riding safety viewpoint often expressed to motorcyclists over the past decades has been to tell them to ride like they are a target for everyone. It is almost like saying to bikers that they should assume that other vehicles are out to get them (even thought that is not remotely true). The point of all of this kind of talk is to try to make bikers remember to always drive defensively. This advice is not new, but even with all of the technological advances in motor vehicles, it is still very relevant.
Motorcycle riders on today’s highways and roadways are always vulnerable to potentially serious injuries. Motorcycles are frequently said to be difficult to see by other vehicles on the road. That is true under even the best driving conditions. If you throw in the reality that there are many distracted drivers on the roads, the chances of a distracted drive not seeing a motorcycle on the road can are very high. Distracted driving has become a major problem in the United States, and it has put bikers at a higher risk than ever before. Motorcyclists must be prepared to drive defensively.
The Problems on the Roads
Most people haven driven distracted at one time or another. Cell phones are one of the most obvious distractions for drivers, but they aren’t the only problem. People have conversations with other passengers in their vehicles, use their rearview mirror to check their appearance and eat, all while they should be completely focused on their driving. . All of these distractions can take a driver’s focus away from the task at hand, and all are potentially dangerous things to do while driving.
Folks that ride (bikes) and people with family members and friends who also ride tend to be some of the most attentive drivers on the road. Even when paying attention, drivers don’t always hear or see riders. Now imagine how much more hazardous it is for the person on a motorcycle when the people around them are performing a variety of other tasks behind the wheel while driving…It is so dangerous and not just for the bikers, but for everyone!
Knowing how to spot distracted driving can help you make important decisions. Getting ahead of a vehicle or hanging far back could be what saves your life. Here are some warning signs that may suggest a driver is distracted:
- They are consistently slowing down or speeding up without cause. It’s not fair to say that anyone who slows or accelerates is distracted, but it’s best to assume they are not focused when there is no apparent reason for their changes in speed. Be mindful that someone that is speeding up or slowing down for no reason may very well be a distracted driver.
- They fail to signal turns or lane changes. Unfortunately, some people have the bad and dangerous habit of never using their turn signals. However, if you are behind a driver who is only intermittently using their signal, the chances are high that they are distracted when they miss hitting their indicator. If you are near a vehicle that changes lanes or turns without signaling, they are a bad driver that also may be distracted. Stay a safe distance away from drivers that fail to use their signals as the law requires.
- They do not move at a green light. Have you ever been behind that person who doesn’t seem to realize that the light turned green? Most of us have experienced this at least once. Take a look at the position of their head while they are sitting there. If you see their head snap up before they quickly accelerate, there’s a good chance that they were texting, reading, chatting or checking out their social media accounts.
- They never move. Look for a driver whose head never moves. They don’t look left or right. Their head remains straight ahead or at an odd downward angle. If they stay in one constant position, it is likely that this driver is doing something else behind the wheel. Remember, you don’t have to be on a cell phone or actively doing something to be a distracted driver. Any driving where you are not focused (day dreaming, preocupised thoughts on something else) is distracted driving.
Keeping Yourself Safe
Sometimes noticing that a driver is distracted isn’t enough. Additionally you may need to be able to make maneuvers to keep yourself safe. Some of these things may come naturally to you, and others may require some practice. Either way, consider the following:
- Signal to drivers with your headlight. This is an easy way to show the driver your position. Move your bike in such a way that your headlight moves slightly back and forth, making other drivers look up and pay attention.
- Use hand signals. You may be surprised at how many people fail to learn the hand signals that go along with riding a motorcycle. Some people assume that they are unnecessary because of the lights that are on all bikes. It’s simply a good idea to also use hand signals. Many people don’t, so it is an action that will get you noticed.
- Evaluate traffic. You should be able to evaluate the flow of traffic, the vehicles on the road and the problems that may arise. The more information you gather through observation, the better chances you have of not being the victim of a distracted driver.
Distracted Driving Statistics.
- 3,450 were killed as a result of distracted driving in 2016
- Approximately 481,000 drivers use cell phones while driving during daylight hours
- Eating is a close 2nd to cell phone use when it comes to being the #1 distraction
- Tens of thousands (or more) of people are injured annually due to distracted driving
While distracted driving is a problem for everyone, motorcyclists may be at a higher risk of fatality due to their lack of protection. Learning how to spot and stay away from a distracted driver can go a long way in keeping you safer on your journey.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in the Carolinas that was caused by a distracted driver, reach out to our team. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation, and let us help you discover the options and rights that you have.