The open road, the exhilaration, the freedom. To some, choosing a motorcycle to drive over other vehicles seems like the obvious choice. To others, choosing a vehicle with four walls of protection seems best. Whether you’re enjoying the open air or the confines of your personal vehicle, motorists and motorcyclists alike need to have safety at the front of their minds. Although you can’t control how other people drive, you can control how you conduct yourself while driving – and that can go a long way toward reducing the number of wrecks on our roads.
While virtually every motorcyclist has had the heart-stopping experience of a driver turning left in front of them, there are other common occurrences of motorists not following basic traffic rules. Top on that list? Running a red light. We all have either done it or seen it: speeding through a yellow only to find it has turned red before anticipated. Some people simply aren’t paying attention and don’t realize the light is red, while others are distracted, texting, drowsy, drunk, speeding, or engaging in other reckless behaviors.
Motorcyclists can help themselves by looking both ways at an intersection after the light has turned green. Pay special attention to drivers who move forward a bit. They may see a green arrow out of the corner of their eye and instinctively start to go even if their light is red. That motion may cause the drivers next to them to also think their light has turned. It’s also not uncommon for drivers to have a hard time seeing what color the light is if they’re driving against a low sun. This is common during rush hour traffic, which is when getting behind a larger vehicle can work for you. Motorcycles can be difficult to see, but semis aren’t. If you’re the first in line at an intersection, be aware of the dreaded quick-draw left turner. This driver is betting he’ll bolt left across traffic as soon as the light turns green before anyone else has time to realize what happened.
The same issues come up with stop signs. These crucial traffic control devices are often hidden by bushes or parked cars, but even the ones that are clearly visible are not always obeyed. Sometimes, drivers don’t anticipate a stop sign because of how busy the road is or how fast the speed limit is. Right-of-way seems to baffle many people also. At a four-way stop, not everyone seems to want to count all the way to four and, instead, always acts as if it’s their turn. That being said, make sure crossing traffic is actually stopping before you begin to go. Roll out first to be sure drivers recognize that you are about to cross the street.
Another frighteningly common traffic tragedy is that of an oncoming car that crosses over the yellow line. Either the driver is distracted and not paying attention, the driver doesn’t see you, the driver doesn’t think you’re close enough to be in danger, the driver doesn’t care, or the driver has no choice due to something in the road or on the side of the road. If the area on the side of the road is wide open, get as far right as possible. This isn’t always an option, as you clearly wouldn’t want to have to choose between hitting a car as opposed to ramming into a tree, building, or pedestrian.
Be aware of how small you are as a motorcyclist, and how easy it is to fall into someone’s blind spot. Do yourself a favor and move to the far side to help be sure you are seen in a person’s rear-view mirror. Remember that larger vehicles make wide turns, which can put them in other lanes before they can straighten out. Make yourself more visible with bright clothing, helmet, and high-beam use. Of course, avoiding a wreck is not always possible, but there are some choices that can be made to put you in a better position.
If you have any questions about this topic, or if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent motorist, contact experienced Louisiana motorcycle accident attorney Chris Roy Jr, founder of the Chris J. Roy, Jr. Law Firm. Having practiced law for nearly 30 years, he takes pride in helping accident victims in Alexandria, Pineville, Rapides Parish, Grant Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Allen Parish, Vernon Parish, and throughout Central Louisiana. Benefit from his assistance and knowledge by contacting the firm for a free initial consultation. Call 1-318-987-8170 to get help today.