George O. Haskell IV Law Office

Motorcyclists: Avoid left-turn accidents with these tips

Left-turn accidents, where a passenger car or truck suddenly turns left right in front of a moving motorcycle as if the rider and bike weren't even there, are a nightmare for bikers. They're one of the top things experienced riders warn other drivers to expect.

Left-turn accidents aren't typically something that drivers in other passenger cars have to worry about. Motorcyclists experience the phenomenon primarily because other drivers somehow don't register the presence of the biker. No one is quite sure why it happens. Experts suspect that drivers focus so hard on traffic signals, trucks and other cars -- the typical dangers they're trained to watch -- that their minds simply overlook motorcycles because they don't expect to see them.

Unfortunately, that means it's on you to protect yourself as much as possible from a serious motorcycle accident. Here are the best pieces of advice to follow:

  • Realize it happens. A driver can be looking right at you and still look "through" you.
  • When possible, make actual eye contact with drivers in situations where you think a left-turn accident could occur (like heavy traffic). That may help make the driver conscious of your presence.
  • Stay focused on your own surroundings and be prepared to move left or right if possible to avoid a wreck.
  • Try to mentally plot a route around a driver turning left in front of you the moment you see any sign that a driver is going that way -- just in case the driver doesn't spot you and doesn't stop.
  • Don't rush a green light. A two-second pause can keep you from falling victim to a driver trying to beat the opposite red light in the oncoming lane moving left.

It's possible that motorcycle unawareness will decrease as the popularity of motorcycles increases. For now, however, it's something that all riders need to learn to anticipate if they want to avoid an accident -- especially near intersections.

Source: Motorcyclist, "How To Avoid Left-Turn Accidents," Jerry Smith, accessed May 04, 2018

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