Bikers: Reduce Your Risk of Being Hit by a Car

(Here's what you need to know)
Motorcycle rider on freeway

Motorcyclists understand something that those riding in vehicles (“cagers”) don't: There's something supremely liberating about taking to the open road with nothing between you and the environment but your good fortune and a bit of leather. When on a bike, you are not only more aware of your surroundings; you are also more one with the road.

As with all things, however, this feeling of exhilaration comes at a price. As a motorcyclist, you are far more likely to be injured or killed in an accident than those who are protected by their steel cages. By nature, most cagers expect to see only other cars on the road. Bikers (and bicyclists, and even pedestrians) must be aware of this fact.

Furthermore, the feeling of invulnerability that comes with having multiple airbags in a two-ton crossover or SUV sometimes leads to inattention or aggressive driving. This can spell trouble for someone on a motorcycle. Regardless of who’s at fault for an accident, the biker always pays the price when it comes to injuries. Fortunately, you can take a few precautions to minimize your chances of a collision with a car, starting with an affordable motorcycle insurance.

How to Reduce the Risk of Being Hit by a Driver Who Is Changing Lanes

It's not uncommon for motorcyclists to be hit by cars when the drivers are changing lanes. It is almost as though motorists are simply unable to see bikes. A few precautions on your part can go a long way toward maintaining your safety.

  • When possible, avoid riding in the driver’s blind spot.  Drivers don't always bother to turn their heads to check if someone is approaching before changing lanes, and your motorcycle is small enough to easily fit into the areas that can't be seen using mirrors alone.
  • Stay alert to traffic patterns. You can usually predict when a driver is likely to want to change lanes.
  • Don't assume that drivers will hear you approaching. If they're jamming away to “Uptown Funk” or some other turned-up music, they're likely to be lost in their own little worlds.
  • Keep in mind that if you can see a driver’s eyes in their side-view mirror, they can see you. Try to make sure that you are seen before riding past the car.

How to Reduce the Risk of Being Hit by a Driver Who Is Making a Left Turn

Drivers making left turns are responsible for a full 42% of all accidents in which a car and motorcycle collide. That's one of the biggest hazards faced by bikers.  These accidents most frequently happen when the biker is going straight through an intersection and a driver going the opposite direction makes a left turn into the biker.

Accidents of this nature involving two cars happen often enough, but because motorcycles are smaller and are frequently overlooked by motorists, it makes for an even bigger hazard. Naturally, you can't control the actions of drivers, but you can take some precautions to reduce your risk of being involved in this type of accident:

  • Avoid speeding, particularly through intersections.
  • Do not attempt to pass cars or weave through traffic while approaching or riding through intersections.
  • If you notice an approaching car with a left turn signal on, be prepared to take any necessary defensive maneuvers.
  • Ride on the left side of your lane. Cagers may be more aware of bikes directly ahead of them, and will most likely clear your path earlier if they continue their turn.
  • When riding with others, avoid riding two bikes right next to each other in the lane. Proper technique requires that one bike follow the other, staggered on the left and right sides of the lane.
  • Approach all intersections with your hands over the brake and clutch levers, prepared for emergency avoidance maneuvers. Be aware of other cars following the leading car, in case you need to make a last-ditch swerve into an oncoming traffic lane.
  • Install headlight modulators, devices that flash headlight high beams that can be used to wake up inattentive or negligent drivers.
  • Practice emergency avoidance maneuvers every month or so. A bit of practice on this vital skill can quite literally save your life.

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How to Reduce the Risk of Being Hit while Lane Splitting

Most motorcyclists have done this, especially if they’re riding an air-cooled bike. While stuck in stopped or slow-moving traffic, it is easy to operate a motorcycle between two lanes to keep moving along. However, this practice is not only dangerous; it’s actually illegal in many states.

Lane splitting is hazardous because it requires to you ride in a narrow space, which leaves little room to maneuver around any obstacles. Furthermore, drivers rarely expect a motorcyclist to appear in this space between the lanes and may hit the biker with their car while trying to move into a different lane or even just by opening their car door to dump a cup of ice on the road.

Naturally, you're safest if you simply don't do lane splitting. However, if you feel that you must and you are riding in a state where it's  legal, you can reduce your risk of injury by adhering to the following tips:

  • Engage in lane splitting only when your bike is in danger of overheating; and then, only if it's legal in the state you are in.
  • Be wary when one lane is moving faster than the other. Aggressive drivers are likely to suddenly change lanes.
  • Be extra careful while riding in drivers’ blind spots.
  • Ride faster than the speed of traffic, but not much faster.             

Ride Safely and Save on Your Insurance

All of the tips listed above are likely to be covered, explained and practiced in a motorcycle safety course. These courses are recommended for riders of all levels, so just because you've been riding for 20 years doesn’t mean the course is useless to you. Best of all, in addition to learning ways to avoid accidents and injury, successful completion of a safety course can earn you significant discounts on your motorcycle insurance. Speak with your local insurance agent to learn more.

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