5 Biggest Dangers to Motorcycle Riders on the Road
Any vehicle has hazards and dangers that you must cope with if you’re going to use them, even your childhood tricycle was potentially dangerous. However, due to the “bad-boy” perception of motorcycle riders and the reaction of some automobile motorists to them, there are a few specific dangers every rider should watch for, whether you’ve ridden for a decade or you just rolled off the lot yesterday with your first bike.
- Cars Waiting to Turn – Careless left turns are a fact of life. Everyone behind the wheel of a car can’t be trusted to look before making these turns at intersections. Motorcyclists all have stories about narrowly avoiding a car pulling out in front of them, and far too many have stories about actually being hit by those cars. Vigilance is an absolute must.
- Panic Braking – Slamming on brakes is always potentially dangerous, but for motorcycles, where 70% of stopping power is in the front brake, slamming on them may potentially lock the wheel and throw the rider. In motorcycles without anti-lock brakes, this can be deadly.
- Cars Changing Lanes – The potential to kill or to be killed is little deterrent, and despite the prevalence of blind spot monitors, it is a regular occurrence for a driver to attempt a lane change without looking. When the lane is occupied with a motorcycle, it is the rider, not the driver, who pays for the mistake every time.
- Drivers Behind You – All the same dangers of drivers making left turns and drivers making lane changes are present when a driver is behind you, particularly when traffic is slowed to a crawl or you are at an intersection. It takes a split second of inattentiveness for a driver to cause a "fender bender.” When that driver hits a rider though, that "fender bender" can instead cause major motorcycle damage and traumatic physical injury.
- Opening Car Doors – More a problem in stopped traffic and narrow city areas, being clipped by an opening door can separate rider from motorcycle. In areas where lane-splitting is legal, drivers who either believe it illegal or disagree with its legality will sometimes open their doors in traffic to prevent lane-splits by riders, potentially causing traumatic injury.
Sadly, the biggest danger to motorcycle riders continues to be drivers of traditional automobiles. We encourage you to join us and advocate for laws to protect motorcycle riders, but changing perceptions and laws takes time, and awareness of dangers and vigilance against them is your best opportunity for safety.