As the weather warms up, there are expectations for more motorcyclists to hit the road, leading to an increased risk for crashes and injuries. According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT), 68 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2021. It was the highest ever recorded by the state in 30 years.
“While motorcyclists need to be extra careful on the road, the same goes for drivers for their own safety and the safety of motorcyclists,” says attorney Jan Dils. While driving, motorists concentrate more on other cars and often ignore checking for motorcyclists around them, resulting in crashes. With the rate of motorcycle fatalities experienced in 2021, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT) reminded motorists to be more cautious on the road.
Causes of Motorcycle Crashes During the Warmer Season
The warmer months are a popular season when people go on vacations or travel to see loved ones. During this period, the road is always congested, causing an increase in the risks of road accidents occurring.
Listed below are some of the common causes of motorcycle crashes during this time period:
#1. Students on Summer Break
Students usually return home during their summer break. Most of these students are inexperienced drivers and may to drive out to see their friends or go on a road trip.
However, the risk of accidents for inexperienced drivers is higher than for those with experience. Thus, with these students behind the wheel, there is a higher chance of accidents occurring, which can be fatal to motorcyclists. The reason is that they are on the receiving end of serious injury when an accident happens due to lack of protection.
#2. Road Constructions During the Summer
During the winter season, there is less construction on the roads due to snowfall. However, as the weather warms up, from spring to summer, road construction continues.
Construction causes many road hazards such as construction trucks, traffic cones, and slower speed limits. All of these can cause a collision if drivers do not see motorcyclists while driving.
#3. Driving Under the Influence
Drunk driving usually happens throughout every season of the year. But, during warmer seasons, there is this craving for cold drinks, hanging out outside, and going on vacations. Therefore, during summer there are various activities, such as picnics with friends and parties, which require drinks like alcohol.
Unfortunately, some motorcyclists and motorists tend to get behind the wheel drunk after attending these activities. Drunk driving impairs driving skills such as coordination, judgment, and reasoning. As a result, it can result in crashes that can cause serious injuries or death to motorcyclists, motorists, and other road users.
#4. Weather Conditions
Bad weather conditions are another factor contributing to motorcyclist accidents. Summer can bring unexpected rain, reducing visibility and making roadways slippery.
However, some bikers may prefer to continue riding in this poor weather to get to their destination instead of pulling over until the weather improves. Unfortunately, this can lead to accidents causing injuries or death.
#5. Driver Negligence
Most times, motorcyclists are careful when riding their motorbikes. On the other hand, motorists may be negligent when driving. Thus, leading to accidents that can injure both drivers and other road users.
Such accidents can occur due to distracted driving, like trying to pick up a call or reply to a text while driving. Other negligent driving includes speeding, failure to yield, or not paying attention to traffic signs.
CT DOT Tips to Keep the Road Safer For Motorcyclists
Other road users can help keep the roads safer for motorcyclists by adopting safe driving habits. Here are some driving guidelines from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT) for motorists:
#1. Checking Blind Spots Always and Pass with Caution
Naturally, motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles. Thus, making it harder for drivers to notice them when merging or switching lanes. Before changing lanes, motorists should take their time and inspect the blind spots of their cars before continuing with their intended move.
Furthermore, it is also advisable for motorists to be very cautious when passing motorcyclists. They should always use their turn signal to alert the motorcycle riders of their intentions. Also, before motorists return to their lane, they should ensure they are many car lengths ahead of the motorcyclist.
Motorists should always bear in mind that motorcyclists can react faster than vehicles due to their size. Thus, they should avoid tailgating and keep a safe distance behind vehicles. Doing this will prevent rear-end collisions as they can be deadly to motorcyclists.
However, drivers can help keep motorcyclists safe by increasing their following distance, especially when driving at night. While maintaining this safe distance, they should also ensure that their high beams are off when they spot an oncoming motorcycle. When driving with the high beams on, one must dim them at least 500 feet from any approaching car or motorcycle.
#3. Stay in Your Lane and Take Another Look Before Turning Left
By law, motorcycles have their traffic lanes. Thus, on no account should motorists drive in the same lane as the motorcyclists or even try getting closer to the lanes designated for motorcyclists. Trying to share traffic lanes with motorcyclists means confusion and a possible collision that can be fatal for motorcyclists.
Furthermore, motorists should always take a second look at incoming motorbikes before crossing a lane of traffic to turn left. Accidents involving a left-turning vehicle colliding with an oncoming motorcycle can be devastating.
#4. Be Cautious of Turning Motorcycles and Alert Them When Turning
When motorists want to turn, they should always alert motorcyclists of their intention to turn. When they notice motorcycles following them, they have to activate their turn signal earlier than they usually do.
On the other hand, motorists should also be cautious of turning motorcycles. They should increase their following distance if they detect a motorbike riding with its turn signal on for an unusually long road distance. Doing this will help them have enough time to react if the rider decides to turn.
#5. Avoiding Bad Weather Conditions and Always Adhere to the intersection Safety Protocol
Intersections are high-risk zones where many vehicle accidents involving two cars and motorbikes happen. Therefore, when approaching an intersection, always come to a complete stop. Then, observe and obey the traffic signs and signals, look both ways for oncoming vehicles and motorbikes, and continue slowly.
Furthermore, motorists should also avoid bad weather conditions while driving. It could obstruct their visibility to see motorbikes ahead or behind them. When driving and one notices a change in weather, they should park and wait for the weather to improve before continuing their journey.
Motorists also have to play a part in their own safety and for other road users. They should also maintain proper following road distance and wear their helmets always to reduce the degree of injury when an accident occurs. Also, since other vehicles find it difficult to spot them because of their size, they should always wear visible gear, especially at night.
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