According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35% of fatal motorcycle accidents occur at intersections. 42% of fatal two-vehicle motorcycle crashes occurred when the other vehicle was turning left. That figure is already high, given that intersections make up a much smaller portion of the roadway, but the percentage of all accidents is even higher. Data suggests that at least half of all motorcycle crashes happen at intersections.
Common Risks for Motorcyclists at Intersections
One reason intersections are higher-risk is the amount of activity a motorist or motorcyclist may encounter. Traffic may be coming from four different directions, sometimes in multiple lanes, and some vehicles are going straight while others are turning. Some common causes of motorcycle accidents at intersections include:
- A vehicle turns left into the motorcyclists path, usually because the driver of the other vehicle failed to signal the turn or changed speed, or because the motorcyclist didn’t properly assess the speed of the oncoming vehicle
- A vehicle turning left into the motorcyclists path or hitting the motorcyclist while making a left turn because of the circumstances above, or because the motorist failed to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist
Some intersection crashes are at least partly the motorcyclists fault. For example:
- Many left-turn accidents occur when a motorcyclist is riding between lanes or sharing a lane with the vehicle
- A motorcyclist taking a turn too fast may crash due to unanticipated hazards such as grass clippings in the road, a change in surface or surface height, or debris in the road
- Accidents often occur when the motorcyclist is attempting to pass the vehicle on the left
Intersection Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Even when another driver fails to signal or is inattentive at an intersection, there are steps that will help the motorcyclist avoid collisions. For example:
- Be sure to look in every direction when approaching an intersection, to identify oncoming traffic, vehicles that may be turning, and any pedestrians or other non-vehicle traffic that may impact safe riding
- Don’t follow another vehicle too closely coming into an intersection, as the driver may slow to turn or have to brake to make way for other vehicles
- A motorcyclist should always avoid lane splitting, but especially at or near intersections, where the other driver could easily turn into or in front of the biker
- Motorcyclists should be super vigilant approaching intersections, understanding that cars may move out of turn, fail to signal a turn, change speeds or otherwise act unpredictably
- Motorcyclists should try to be as visible as possible–everywhere on the road, but particularly at intersections–since many accidents occur because drivers don’t see motorcycles or don’t see them in time to avoid a crash
- Be prepared to brake going into an intersection
- Pay attention to traffic behind you when you are approaching an intersection with traffic signals, as a car behind you may be anticipating that you will enter the intersection on yellow–or just not be paying close enough attention–and fail to slow or stop behind you
Of course, general motorcycle safety tips are also important. These include ensuring that the bike is well-maintained, observing speed limits, traffic lights and other safety regulations and avoiding riding under the influence.
Help for Motorcycle Accident Victims
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault–or even partly someone else’s fault–you may be entitled to compensation. Your best resource is an experienced motorcycle accident attorney like Kevin P. Broderick. He has been fighting for fair compensation for injury victims in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for decades, and has the knowledge and experience you need to put together a strong case.
To learn more, call 978-459-3085 right now, or fill out the contact form on this site. The initial consultation is free, and there’s no obligation.
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