I am a Georgia lawyer who handles motorcycle accident cases, so I have
talked to all too many seriously injured bikers, or to family members
of bikers who were killed in wrecks with cars. Tragically, both in Georgia
and nationally, biker deaths are increasing, instead of decreasing.
When a car hits a motorcycle, the motorcyclist is likely to get hurt. But
even without actually hitting the motorcycle, a car that comes too close
to a motorcycle can force the biker to lay down his bike, or run off the
road and crash – and again, the biker is often injured or even killed.
As part of National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month (which was in May),
the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration published a
Fact Sheet on sharing the road with motorcycles some great tips for car drivers to help them avoid collisions with motorcycles.
I wanted to talk about those tips in my next couple of motorcycle legal
Tip 1: Nobody – car driver, pedestrian, or biker – should be
on the road while distracted. I have never seen a biker texting as he
rode down the road on his motorcycle, but I have seen many car drivers
and pedestrians doing just that.
Tip 2: Cars need to remember that motorcycles have a full right to be on
the road. They are motor vehicles, and entitled to the same consideration,
and the same rules and considerations, that a car is. See
Tip 3: Do not be misled by a motorcycle’s size. Sure, motorcycles
are smaller than cars are. But a motorcycle needs a full lane width. If
a car gets two wheels off the road, it still has two wheels on the road,
and a chance to come back onto the roadway smoothly. A motorcycle that
gets two wheels off the road, however, is all the way off the road. As
NHTSA puts it, “the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely.
Do not share the lane.” When a biker gets forced off the road, it
is very hard for him to control his bike on the bumpy and uneven terrain
off the roadway.
Tip 4: As you drive, watch for motorcycles. Because they are smaller, they
can be harder to spot. Also, NHTSA has explained that, because bikes are
smaller, other drivers may have a hard time gauging a bike’s speed
and distance when the motorcycle is heading toward them.
Tip 5: Cars need to use turn signals, even when the vehicle behind them
is “only” a motorcycle. In fact, since motorcycles are less
forgiving in a wreck, bikers rely even more on the signals used by other
drivers. A biker depends on a car signaling what it will do, so that the
biker can anticipate what the car driver will be doing and know what he
should do next.
I will discuss NHTSA’s other four tips in my next Georgia attorney
blog entry. As a summary, though, the key point is to remember that Georgia
law protects motorcycles and gives them the same right to ride on our
roads that cars have. If we respect that right, bikers will be far safer,
and hopefully we can stem the increase in deaths and injuries coming from