Deaths in motorcycle accidents are on the rise in Illinois. In 2010, the Illinois Department of Transportation recorded 131 fatalities involving motorcyclists or their passengers. That figure represents a rise of 27 percent since 1999. Part of that may be attributable to an increase in the overall number of motorcycles on the roads in our state. From 1999 to 2010, registered motorcycles rose by 73 percent to a total of nearly 344,000 in 2010.
But part of the problem may be due to the negligence and inattention of other drivers. According to a man who serves as an instructor in a motorcycle awareness class, many people who get into an accident with a motorcycle claim that they did not even know the motorcycle was there. Drivers may have difficulty seeing motorcycles, but the instructor’s class teaches people to look for and spot them.
The instructor said that intersections are the scene of approximately 50 percent of all motorcycle accidents. Left-hand turns in particular are a significant contributor to that figure. Forced to turn across oncoming traffic, many drivers fail to see the motorcycles in their path.
To keep motorcyclists safe on the roads, the instructor has a few recommendations for people in cars. First, drive defensively. Giving motorcycles a wide berth will help avoid an accident in the event someone needs to take evasive action or stop short. Drivers should be especially careful not to tailgate motorcycles, because even a slight nudge from a car can lead to a fatal motorcycle accident.
Second, motorcycles sometimes travel in pairs or groups. Cars should let all motorcycles pass before attempting to merge into an adjoining lane. Last, people should make an extra effort to look for motorcycles at night. A motorcycle’s single headlight can deceive drivers and make it appear to disappear into traffic. Looking multiple times for motorcycles is a good practice.
Source: The Journal-Standard, “Making the road safer for bikers,” Nick Crow, July 23, 2012.