Federal safety officials are calling on states to require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, citing a surge in fatalities since the late 1990s.
Motorcycle deaths have increased over the last decade even as other traffic fatalities have declined, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
Change to: There were 4,400 motorcycle deaths in the U.S. last year, more than in all aviation, rail, marine and pipeline accidents combined. There were 415 in California alone. That’s nearly twice the fatalities a decade ago. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.
Here is some valuable information from DefensiveDriving.com’s Defensive Driving Course…
Knowing when collisions involving motorcycles are most likely to occur can help you drive safely in dangerous situations:
- Left Turns – Nationally, the most common crash between cars and motorcycles is at an intersection when the automobile driver is making a left turn in front of a motorcycle. In 2008, there were 2,554 two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle.
- Blind Spots – Motorcycles riding alongside a lane of cars are often out of view of the driver. An unsuspecting driver may collide with a motorcycle as the driver tries to change lanes.
- Hazardous Road Conditions – Motorcycles have to be very concerned about road obstructions such as potholes and fallen tree limbs. Railroad tracks may be a minor problem for drivers, but a motorcyclist may have to slow down or change lanes to avoid these obstacles.
- Weather Conditions – When the road surface is wet or icy, motorcycle braking and handling abilities are impaired.
- Strong Winds – A strong gust of wind can move a motorcycle across an entire lane if the rider isn’t prepared for it. Wind gusts from large trucks passing in the other lane can be a real hazard.
- Large Vehicles – A large vehicle such as a van, bus, or truck can block a motorcycle from a driver’s view. The motorcycle may seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere.
Remember to look out for motorcycles, anticipate their movements, signal your intentions, and allow plenty of space around them. You can do this by scanning the road and your mirrors to identify potential hazards. Anticipate the motorcyclist’s actions and adjust your driving technique. Use your horn; it is sometimes difficult for motorcyclists to hear traffic and they may not hear you otherwise. Respect motorcycles as full-sized vehicles.