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A friend of mine was attending school at the University of Utah and would ride his motorcycle to campus every day. It worked out well—there were more parking options and it a motorcycle parking permit was significantly less expensive. One afternoon, while riding on a small section of road south of the university a driver in the lane next to him was talking on the phone. As two lanes merged into one the other driver didn’t look as she merged left and my friend was pushed into oncoming traffic. The driver kept going, probably unaware of the whole situation.
Luckily my friend wasn’t hurt.
What are the Factors in Accidents and Safety
As motorcyclists, we’ve been told over and over that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars. We keep talking about it because accidents are still happening. Maybe it’s time we try a new approach. After all, motorcycles aren’t the only vehicles involved in motorcycles accidents.
March is National Collision Awareness month, making our conversation about safety even more relevant. In Utah, motorcyclists sit in an interesting position. Here, motorcycles are usually used for leisure, not as a primary mode of transportation. As motorcyclists, we learn very quickly that most motorcycle wrecks aren’t always caused by the motorcyclist. They’re often caused by a driver of a car or other vehicle. That’s scary considering that a motorcyclists’ risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater (per mile traveled) than a driver in a passenger car. Motorcyclists can follow all the rules—they can drive safely, wear protective gear, and pay attention—but still be involved in a fatal collision when someone in a passenger car isn’t paying attention.
A study called “The Invisible Gorilla” can help us understand why motorcycles are so often involved in crashes. If you haven’t heard of the study, take the time to watch the video.
This video shows how we get so focused on what we expect to see that we ignore the things we don’t expect to see. The same principle applies to motorcycles on the road. We don’t expect to see them and when we’re paying attention to something else (i.e., other cars), they seem invisible. Often, motorcycles are subconsciously filtered out, and that’s how so many people can report in an accident that they just didn’t see the motorcyclist.
This conversation wouldn’t be complete without representing both sides. As motorcyclists, we need to be safer. Be sure to follow all the laws. Don’t impede traffic, stay within the speed limit, and get to know the roads you ride. We can all do simple things like wear reflective gear or put reflective strips on our motorcycles. We can also take safety lessons. I highly recommend the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. This organization teaches classes and helps riders learn better, and safer, motorcycle skills.
And of course, be sure to obtain and maintain your motorcycle license. In 2007, one out of every four fatal motorcycle crashes involved a motorcyclist riding without a valid license. That should never be the case. Do all you can to ride safely.
What’s the Solution?
So what’s the solution? It’s time to be aware. As the weather warms up, motorcyclists are going to be spending more time riding and enjoying the freedom motorcycles offer. If you are driving a car, try to pay closer attention to motorcycles on your commute. This might just help you train your brain not to filter out motorcycles and their riders, making your trip (and theirs) that much safer.
If you are a motorcyclist, make sure you are outfitted correctly, that you know the rules of the road, and the you are driving defensively. Defensive driving is key in being safe nd reaching your destination safely.
Sometimes, no matter how safe we are or how good we are as riders and drivers, accidents still happen. If you need help understanding the law or if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in Utah, please call us. We want to help, so let us help you.
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