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Minnesota Motorcycle Awareness: Safe Driving Tips for Motorists

May 2014

Motorcycle season has returned to Minnesota, and this makes it imperative for motorcyclists and other motorists to take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. Sadly, motorcycle rider fatalities in Minnesota increased by 7 percent in 2013, and the first death of 2014 occurred on March 11 after a 30-year-old man hit a pothole and was ejected from his motorcycle as a result of driving at an illegal speed.

Fortunately, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) are encouraging all riders to sign up for a motorcycle rider training course. Additionally, all other motorists should familiarize themselves with safe driving tips that will help them become more aware of motorcycles on the road.

Important Facts about Motorcycle Crashes

Approximately 50 percent of motorcycle traffic accidents involve another vehicle, and a lack of awareness and visibility is the prime culprit in many of these crashes. In fact, there are five main reasons that other drivers are unable to see a motorcycle until it is too late. 

  1. One of the major issues that cause crashes is the fact that the majority of car drivers are not personally familiar with motorcycles and fail to keep an eye out for them in traffic.
  2. Most motorcyclists wear important safety gear such as a helmet and leather, and the vast majority of these items are darkly colored. Unfortunately, this tends to make riders blend into the road.
  3. Motorcycles are harder to spot and can be more easily hidden by vehicles because they are much smaller than standard cars.
  4. In the past, motorcycle riders had an advantage because they kept their headlights on during the day. However, it is now a common practice for other vehicles to do the same. 
  5. It can be problematic for motorists to determine the distance and speed of a motorcycle because these vehicles only have a single headlight.

Safe Driving Techniques Save Lives

  1. Be extra cautious when weather is very sunny or raining because the glare that is caused by these weather conditions can make it much harder to see a motorcycle.
  2. The majority of accidents involving motorcycles and other vehicles occur as the result of turning left at an intersection. Therefore, motorists should always double-check to make sure motorcycles are not nearby before they turn.
  3. It is common for motorcyclists to initiate eye contact with other motorists to help ensure visibility. Returning their glance with a nod will let them know that you are aware they are nearby.
  4. Motorcycles tend to get hidden due to blind spots, so it is imperative to use your mirrors and look over your shoulder before merging. Additionally, you should always wait longer to turn when a large vehicle passes you because they can easily conceal a motorcycle that is traveling behind them.
  5. Motorcycle turn signals do not typically shut off automatically. Due to this, you should always wait a moment to see if the rider passes you if the bike’s signal is flashing.
  6. Make sure that you always utilize your turn signals so that riders know what to expect.
  7. It is important to provide motorcyclists with a large amount of space so they have the proper amount of time to react. In other words, you should never cut in front of a rider because this will dramatically increase your odds of being involved in an accident.

Additional Awareness Tips

The single most important practice that you can do to help prevent accidents is to constantly be on the lookout for motorcycles. You should also provide riders in front of you with a distance of at least two seconds during good weather conditions. It is necessary to increase this space cushion to five seconds at night, in bad weather and on high speed roads. Riders and other motorists can learn more safety tips by visiting the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Motorcycle Safety Center.

Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident in Minneapolis or anywhere across the state of Minnesota, you should contact the law firm of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben to help with legal action. Call (612) 377-7777 or 1-800-752-4265 (toll-free) for a free consultation.

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