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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

When Should You Pass a Motorcycle?

According to recent statistics, motorcyclists make up around 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States. However, despite making up a relatively small number of drivers on the road, motorcyclists are far more likely to get into traffic accidents.

What’s more, motorcyclists have a fatality rate that is 35 times higher per mile traveled than passenger vehicle occupants. For example, in 2019, motorcyclists made up a staggering 14% of all vehicle fatalities. Such statistics leave many people wondering why motorcyclists get into accidents so frequently.

Is it because these vehicles are more inherently dangerous than others? Is it harder for other drivers to see them on the road? When should you pass a motorcycle? Understanding how motorcycle-related accidents happen will help everyone drive more safely and avoid accidents.

Why Are Motorcyclists More Likely to Get Into Accidents?

Why Are Motorcyclists More Likely to Get Into Accidents?

When looking at the causes of traffic accidents, a lot of factors come up — reckless driving, speeding, alcohol use, and driving while fatigued. Accident reports show that motorcyclists don’t commit these offenses more frequently than motorists — yet they are disproportionately more likely to get into accidents.

There are actually several factors that account for this discrepancy.

1. Motorcycles Are More Dangerous Than Motor Vehicles

The biggest reason motorcyclists get into accidents more frequently is because motorcycles are more dangerous than other vehicles. They have a higher performance rate, and they lack the enclosed protection of a motorized vehicle. They also don’t have standard car safety features, like seatbelts or airbags, meaning that riders are more prone to serious injuries when accidents occur.

2. They’re Smaller and Harder to Spot on the Road

Poor visibility is another major contributing factor to the high rate of motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles are much smaller than the standard car and are thus harder to spot. Therefore, drivers can easily miss them in dense traffic, at night, or in bad weather conditions.

3. Motorcycles Land in a Car’s Blind Spot

The motorcycle’s small size is also a disadvantage in situations involving left-hand turns. A car making a left turn at an intersection is more likely to hit a motorcyclist when they’re going straight through the intersection. Motorcyclists are at similar risk when they’re trying to pass the car or overtake it.

This happens because motorists have a blind spot on the left-hand side. Therefore, they have a hard time spotting smaller objects, like motorcyclists, pedestrians or cyclists while on the road.

Given the many reasons above, it would appear to be worth it to get a full coverage policy on a motorcycle.

When Should You Pass a Motorcycle? Safety Tips

Given how easy it is to hit a motorcyclist, many drivers wonder how they should interact with them on the road. Are they allowed to pass a motorcyclist if they’re going too slow?

The answer is yes. If a stretch of road allows passing, then motorists can legally pass motorcycles. However, when doing so, they should take a few precautions.

For one, drivers should maintain a greater distance between their vehicle and the motorcyclist. When accelerating, cars generate a powerful gust of wind that could easily blow the smaller, lighter motorcycle off the road. Therefore, drivers should signal that they want to pass a motorcycle early, and maintain a greater distance so they don’t throw the motorcycle off balance.

Other useful road safety tips drivers can follow include:

Paying attention while driving — In 2018, around 2,800 people were killed in the US because of texting and driving. So to stay safe, drivers should keep their eyes off their phone screens and on the road. This will ensure both their safety and the safety of others.

Being mindful of blindspots — As mentioned, drivers can easily miss small objects in their blindspots. Therefore, before merging into other lanes, drivers should devote a few extra seconds to examining their rearview and side mirrors for any oncoming motorcyclists

Using the four-second rule — When encountering a motorcyclist, drivers should always increase their distance. A four-second delay in driving speed should give drivers enough time to react in the event something goes wrong.

Driving very carefully in bad weather — Bad weather conditions can seriously hinder a driver’s ability to spot motorcyclists while on the road. Therefore, if they’re driving in bad weather, drivers should keep their windshield wipers on and their eyes peeled for any potential danger.

Key Takeaways

Sharing the road with a motorcyclist can be a dangerous game. Even with all the right precautions, accidents still happen, and both motorcyclists and drivers can end up seriously hurt. In such cases, contacting the best motorcycle accident attorneys in Des Moines is imperative. Hiring a trained professional, such as those at Tom Fowler Law, is the best way for drivers to sort out the details of the accident and get the justice they deserve.


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