Urban Motorcycle Accident Prevention

Motorcycle enthusiast, Robert Vaughan, from motervike.com suggests, “perhaps the most renowned study of motorcycle accident causes and countermeasures was done for the University of Southern California by researcher Harry Hurt.”

As it turns out, Vaughan also discovered that Hurt investigated “900 motorcycle accidents and analyzed another 3600 motorcycle traffic accident reports.”  And as a result, the Motorcycle Safety Courses developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation are now “designed largely to build the skills that the Hurt Study found to be missing in the accident-involved rider.”

When one looks at only a few of the findings published by Hurt, the reader comes away with a list of essential tips that may help save a life, or at the very least, help prevent future accidents.

First, the study aims to answer: Who hits motorcyclists? According to Hurt via Vaughan, “most accidents involve a car violating a right-of-way.”   Additionally, the most frequent motorcycle collision patterns emerge when a car turns left in front of a motorcycle.

This tells us that drivers need to pay special attention at four way stops.  Because as we all know, glancing over to see if another car is coming, is NOT the same thing as scanning what may look like a rather empty lane for any sign of pedestrian, bike, or motorcyclist!

To hammer this point home, the following observation is also made by Vaughan, “intersections are the most likely place” for a motorcycle accident, with a car “not only violating the right-of-way, but often traffic controls as well.”

It is also a known fact that the majority of accidents occur on short trips “such as shopping, errands, visiting friends, entertainment or recreation.”  Furthermore, if most accidents happen close to similar trip origins, then over “three-fourths of the hazards are already within 45°” of a typical biker’s path.

But what makes motorcycle drivers get hit so often? In general, the main reason is the driver of the other vehicle simply does not see the biker in time to avoid the collision.  In addition, “alcohol is involved in almost half of the fatal accidents.”

Yet–for the most part, motorcyclists are usually smart enough on their own “to separate riding and drinking.”  However, the fact remains that even if the driver(s) of other vehicles are sober, motorcycles can be hard to see.

When it comes to visibility, Vaughan argues that Hurt’s study suggests, “accident involvement is significantly reduced by the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.”  As a result, motorcycle drivers should take extra care to make sure that other drivers can see them.

One of the ways to accomplish this end may be to encourage the wearing of better reflective gear like bright colors helmets and jackets for our motorcyclists.  Another effective safety tip for bikers may be to position the motorcycle so that it can be seen in traffic.

This means no more weaving in and out from behind cars.  And to majority of automobile drivers on California roadways: expect to share the roads with bikers and check your mirrors often.

How else can people prevent accidents involving motorcycles? Studies also show that “motorcycle rider courses reduce accidents and injuries in accidents.”  Courses like the ones taught at the California Motorcycle Safety Program, for example, help drivers know what the best gear is to wear, how to drive defensively, and what steps to take if a rider or passenger’s safety is suddenly compromised.

The burden is on us to use the information we have in order to prevent catastrophe.  So be kind to your fellow drivers and remember to always be on alert when riding a motorcycle or driving a car.  Look twice and save a life!

The above referenced article can also be found at: (http://www.motorvike.com/Avoidaccidents.htm).