Motorcycle accidents can be deadly, and statistics indicate just how deadly such accidents can be compared to those that involve just automobiles. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, the fatality rate per registered vehicle for motorcyclists in 2015 was six times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants.

While some people may be quick to blame rider error as the leading cause of multiple-vehicle accidents, the failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic also contributes heavily to motorcycle accidents. Nearly two-thirds of accidents involving motorcycles are caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right of way.

Drivers must respect the rights of motorcycle riders, and riders would be wise to acknowledge their own vulnerabilities to cars and trucks. 

In addition, motorists can heed the following tips to reduce their risk of being involved in accidents with motorcycles.

  • Carefully check vehicle mirrors before changing lanes, as motorcycles are often obscured behind larger automobiles.
  • Drivers should be on even higher alert at intersections and turns, actively looking for motorcycles. Forty-four percent of two-vehicle, fatal motorcycle accidents in 2013 were the result of cars trying to turn left while the motorcycle went straight, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • Allow for greater passing distance when passing a motorcycle. The gust of wind that results as cars accelerate and pass motorcycles could cause the bike to become unstable. Signal all intentions to pass and allow several car lengths before returning to the lane.
  • Direct Auto and Life Insurance advises drivers to give motorcycles the entire lane. It is not alright to pass a motorcycle in the same lane even though they take up less room. Many bikers ride tandem in lanes for this reason.
  • Drivers driving behind bikes should increase the distance between the back of the motorcycle and their own vehicles. Increasing this safety cushion makes drivers more able to react to the unexpected.Be mindful of changes in the weather. Driving in the rain or other adverse conditions can be challenging for cars and trucks, but inclement weather is even more hazardous for bikers. Allow for a little extra breathing room and drive slowly when sharing slick roads with motorcycles.
  • Check blind spots often, as motorcycles can be hard to spot, especially when attempting to pass other vehicles.
  • Exercise extra caution at night, when riding can be especially treacherous for motorcycle riders. Cars should refrain from passing and avoid using their high beams unless it’s necessary.

All motorists, whether on four or two wheels can navigate safely when they are courteous to others.