Spring has finally sprung for most of the country, and weather has warmed up. Finally, motorcycle season is here, which means it’s time to remind drivers to be aware of motorcycles and to share the road with them, as well as bicycles and pedestrians.
Motorcycles pose many different issues that drivers of both vehicles and motorcycles should be aware of:
- Physics is not on the motorcyclist’s side in a collision. A sport bike can have a dry weight on the order of 400 pounds, while a compact vehicle weighs about 3500 pounds – almost a 9 times mass differential. From conservation of momentum, this means that even an incidental contact or delta-V from a car to a motorcycle can have huge consequences for the motorcyclist.
- A motorcycle’s visual profile is small, particularly to the rear and rear corners of vehicles. Side mirrors that are convex (i.e. Tractor Trailer mirrors) or that state “Objects In Mirror are Closer Than They Appear” may require a closer look in order to see a motorcyclist.
- Because of the motorcycle’s small visual profile, it may be more difficult for a vehicle driver to assess or predict a motorcyclist’s closing speed. This may be particularly important when attempting to change lanes.
- At stop signs or no sign intersections, the normal eye contact between drivers when establishing right of way can be obscured by a driver’s sunglasses or the motorcyclist’s helmet.
- In most parts of the country, motorcycles are not a year-round vehicle. Vehicle drivers can sometimes be in a lull and become accustomed to driving without the presence of motorcycles.
After a few months off the roads, motorcycles should go through a seasonal maintenance check-up. This should include ensuring that all lights and braking systems are operational. Riders should allow some time to get re-accustomed to riding again as well.
As accident reconstruction experts, we see many crashes this time of year due to riders re-familiarizing themselves with their machines, motorcycles with neglected maintenance, and road conditions that have deteriorated over the winter months. Be sure to take some time this spring to make sure your bike is in optimal condition before heading out, and stay safe!