Exploring the Disconnect Between Motorcyclists and Drivers
We’ve all seen it. A motorcyclist is riding the lines, a car doesn’t like it, the two exchange a few hand gestures and words, and an accident is narrowly avoided. Or a motorcycle rides through a line of cars full of many upset, impatient drivers who are stuck in a storm of traffic.
Whatever the circumstance, it seems like the road is never shared between these two and four-wheeled motor vehicles without some frustration coming out for one thing or another. This frustration can lead to dangerous or reckless driving and accidents as a result. Without the physical protection that cars provide, motorcyclists are at a much greater risk for sustaining severe or even fatal injuries if an accident does occur. So, where does this disconnect between motorcyclists and drivers stem from?
A Short History of Motorcycles
Motorcycles, as we know them today, have been sold and ridden across the country for over 100 years. In 1901, the first mass production of motorcycles was made by Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company. There were 500 made that year, and by 1913, the company would produce more than 20,000 motorcycles. In 1903, the famous Harley Davidson company also began mass producing and selling their own two-wheeled motor vehicles.
Motorcycles played an important role during World War l and World War ll of transporting important communication to the front lines. Harley Davidson donated nearly 50 percent of its production to the war efforts. Following the wars, motorcycles became a source of entertainment for veterans and the general population and have since stayed a very popular means of transportation for those who enjoy the thrill of the ride. Today, there are over 8 million registered motorcycles in the United States alone.
When people began riding motorcycles for transportation on the road, laws for riding and driving became necessary to keep riders safe. Motorcycles are treated like cars in that a rider must get a specific motorcycle license to legally ride and have their motor vehicle registered. In addition, motorcycles should possess features that allow them to safely ride on the road with cars, such as turn signals, rear view mirrors, and headlights. North Carolina also requires riders to have at least liability insurance in case an accident does occur.
Another frequently discussed motorcycle law involves lane splitting. Lane splitting is a maneuver made by motorcycles where they ride in between cars when traffic is stopped or going slowly. In North Carolina, it’s not illegal to lane split between cars, so motorcycles are legally allowed to ride between cars and bypass them when traffic is slow. It is, however, illegal for motorcycles to pass cars on the right.
Common Causes of Accidents
Many motorcycle accidents could be prevented by drivers increasing their awareness of others on the road. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Many times, drivers are unaware of motorcycles and fail to see them because they aren’t necessarily expecting them. Motorcycles are generally smaller than most cars and sometimes land in blind spots of motorists that aren’t looking. Some other common causes of accidents between vehicles and motorcycles include:
Unsafe lane changes
Opening car doors into a motorcycle’s path
Driving under the influence
Left turn accidents
Motorcyclists should always be aware of cars that are around them or heading in their direction. They should try to avoid accidents by anticipating a driver’s next move and always being ready to make a quick maneuver if they see an accident about to happen.
The Road Sharing Disconnect
Determining who is at fault when an accident occurs can be difficult, and some could have a different point of view as to whose fault it is. Police may stop a motorcyclist who is speeding excessively and lane splitting. Or, a vehicle driver may be pulled over for attempting to hinder a motorcyclist from riding between the lines. The most important step and easiest way for motorists to keep motorcyclists safe is by sharing the road. Many drivers have a mentality that motorcyclists “come out of nowhere,” however, it only seems this way because most drivers aren’t even looking for motorcycles at all. Keeping an eye out from the beginning will help drivers become more aware of motorcycles around them. Riders are especially vulnerable to injuries or death if an accident occurs, and whether drivers like it or not, motorcycles are not going away anytime soon.
It’s always important to be aware of motorcycles on the road. These two-wheeled riders are at a greater risk of sustaining severe injuries if an accident occurs, so drivers need to be extremely aware of those around them. Whether it’s pulling out of a parking lot, switching lanes, or driving through an intersection, motorcycle accidents can happen anywhere. And if it already has, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
Contact our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at (828) 266-0216 if you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident. We can help you seek the compensation you deserve!