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How a Motorcyclist Can Protect Themselves from Distracted Drivers
Riding a motorcycle is exciting and enjoyable, but it's not without its inherent risks. Even the most experienced, skilled, and cautious motorcyclists can find themselves in dangerous situations by no fault of their own. Not every driver on the road is mindful of the exposed nature of travel on two wheels, and today's drivers are more distracted behind the wheel than ever before. While no motorcyclist can eliminate all the risks of sharing the road with reckless drivers, some things can be done to mitigate those risks.
Protecting oneself from distracted drivers while riding a motorcycle is largely an exercise in situational awareness. The motorcycle rider must be able to detect potentially dangerous situations as they evolve so that taking evasive action is possible. Motorcycle safety is largely a function of time and space. The more of either commodity a rider has, the less the chance that a distracted driver's mistakes will cause an accident. Keep reading to learn how motorcyclists can protect themselves from distracted drivers.
Motorcycles have a way of blending into the background, especially with the popularity of today's large, bulky SUVs on the road. Even when motorists aren't distracted, it can be easy for a driver to lose sight of a motorcyclist between other cars. Add into the equation distracted driving, and the visibility issue is further compounded. Motorcyclists can reduce their risk by boosting visibility with running lights and high-visibility clothing, such as a vest that's reflective and brightly colored. Even in the daytime, running lights can help other motorists spot you in traffic, which will help reduce your risk of falling in the path of a distracted driver.
Be Careful with Crossing
Another tip that can increase your safety on a motorcycle is to avoid crossing in front of fellow motorists unless you can confirm that they've seen you. On a two-lane road, it's a good idea to make sure an oncoming motorist sees you before executing a left-hand turn across traffic. Eye contact is key to confirming that you've been seen. If there's any doubt, just wait it out. On four-lane highways, don't merge in front of another vehicle until you can confirm that they see you and understand your intent.
It goes without saying that a motorcyclist should have a heightened sense of situational awareness around other drivers. After all, the margin for error on a motorcycle is much smaller than in a four-wheeled vehicle, so you must take extra care when entering a roadway or executing basic maneuvers. It's because of that heightened vulnerability that motorcyclists also need to be more aware of the behaviors of their fellow drivers. For example, if you see a car in an adjacent lane having a hard time staying between the lines, the reasons could include distracted driving, a medical emergency, or impairment. In any of those cases, you shouldn't approach the vehicle to pass. Instead, diagnose the danger of the situation and place a premium on safety over speed of travel. In all circumstances, it's better to be cautious and a few minutes late than to never reach your destination at all.