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5 ways motorcycles differ from cars

Posted in Car Accident on Monday, June 29, 2015

Cars and trucks are not the only types of motor vehicles to travel along Chicago roadways. Many Illinois motorists are choosing fuel-efficient motorcycles as their main form of transportation, especially during the warmer months of the year. While some motorists are careful to share the road with motorcyclists, others are not used to looking out for these smaller vehicles. A motorcycle accident lawyer in Chicago knows that motorcycles have a distinctive design, and therefore, handle much differently than other cars on the road. By understanding these differences, motorists can practice safe driving habits around motorcyclists and may be able to avoid becoming involved in a serious motorcycle accident.

Motorcycles are hard to see

Since motorcycles are significantly smaller in size than other types of motor vehicles, they are undoubtedly more difficult to spot in heavy traffic situations. Motorcyclists often move back and forth throughout the lane while riding in order to improve their field of vision or to avoid bad road conditions. As a result, they tend to hide in drivers’ blind spots, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Consequently, motorists may unintentionally change lanes into or directly in front of a motorcycle if they aren’t paying close attention.

Motorcycles can also be hard for motorists to spot across lanes of traffic. In some cases, drivers can spot the wheels of a motorcycle beneath the car, truck or SUV traveling next to them. Trees, bushes, road signs and fences can also hide motorcyclists, making it hard to other drivers’ to see them.

Motorcycles can brake without using their brake lights

When motorcyclists brake, their rear-end brake lights may or may not illuminate, depending on how they are slowing down. Motorcyclists can slow their speed by rolling off the throttle or downshifting, which does not activate the brake lights. Therefore, a motorcyclist may slow down without signaling to the driver behind them that they are doing so. Motorists should allow a greater following distance when driving behind a motor bike in order to compensate for this speed change.

Motorcycles may be closer than they appear

When motorists are getting ready to make a left-hand turn in front of a motorcycle, they should think twice before pulling out. The small profile of a motor bike can make it difficult for motorists to judge how far away the bike actually is, as well as how fast the motorcyclist is going. In fact, more motorcycles accidents are caused by motorists’ failure to yield than any other reason. Drivers are more likely to yield to a larger vehicle traveling 45 mph rather than wait for a smaller motorcyclist going at the same rate of speed. However, turning in front of either vehicle could lead to a catastrophic accident.

Motorcycles are hard to control on certain road surfaces

Potholes, debris, ruts, puddles, railroad tracks, gravel and uneven pavement can spell disaster for motorcyclists. These hazards can cause a motor bike to tip over or slide out of control, a fact known by a motorcycle accident lawyer in Chicago. Motorcyclists may swerve to avoid roadway hazards or slow down in order to safely maneuver their way through the obstacle. Not only should motor vehicle drivers give motorcyclists plenty of space when traveling around them, but they should also remain cautious and ready to react if a cyclist should need to avoid a dangerous road surface situation.

Drivers should also keep in mind that hazardous roads can occur in a number of different situations, including inclement weather conditions, when road surfaces are icy, slick or wet, construction zones and even regular roadways.

Turn signals on motorcycles are not self-canceling

When a car completes a full turn, the turn signal normally cancels on its own. Turn signals on motorcycles, however, do not, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. In some situations, motorcyclists may forget that their turn signal is still on. Drivers who are traveling alongside or behind motorcyclists should be aware that just because motorcyclists have their turn signal on, does not mean that they are turning. Motorists should be prepared for the motorcycle to either turn or keep going straight.

Motorcycles are deadly

After evaluating the number of fatalities that occurred on U.S. roadways in 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that motorcyclists are more than 40 times more likely to die in traffic accidents than motor vehicle drivers and passengers. That same year 5,080 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents across the nation. Approximately 159 of those fatalities occurred in Illinois. Motorcycles account for just over 3 percent of registered motor vehicles in the country, yet motorcyclists make up more than 15 percent of all roadway fatalities.

Motorcycles are not equipped with the life-saving safety devices, such as airbags and anti-lock brakes, that many cars have. They also lack the protective outer shell that other vehicles offer. When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, they are more likely to suffer from extensive injuries because of this vulnerability. According to the NHTSA, 80 percent of motorcycle riders become injured in a collision, compared to only 20 percent of motor vehicle drivers.

Motorcycles have the same rights and responsibilities as every other motorist on the road. Not only should motorists be aware of motorcyclists, but riders should dress conspicuously and do their part to remain visible to drivers as well. People who have been involved in a motorcycle collision may want to seek legal assistance from a motorcycle accident lawyer in Chicago.

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