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Sharing the road with a motorcycle can be a frustrating and nervous experience for automobile drivers. But having a better understanding of motorcyclists and their machines will make sharing the road with them more comfortable and safe for everyone. Small in stature and in numbers One reason why automobile drivers might feel uncomfortable driving around motorcycles is because such an event is a rare occurrence, says the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). Compared to their four-wheeled counterparts, the amount of motorcycles on the open road at any given time are few and far between. In 2007, motorcycles accounted for fewer than three percent of all registered vehicles and less than half a percentage point of logged vehicle miles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Because of this minimal road presence, some car and truck drivers don't even realize when a motorcycle is near them, creating a potential recipe for disaster, especially at intersections. In 2008, nearly half of all motorcycle accidents resulting in fatality involved another type of motor vehicle. Forty-one percent of these accidents involved a motorist turning left while the motorcycle was going straight or in the process of passing or overtaking the vehicle. A large number of these crashes might possibly be attributed to discrepancies in size between the two machines, as a motorcycle's small stature makes them more prone to fall within a car's blindspots or hidden from view by other objects. The MSF recommends erring on the assumption that approaching motorcyclists are closer than they appear when checking traffic at an intersection or changing lanes on the highway. Common motorcycle operating techniques It's not uncommon for motorcyclists to decelerate by downshifting or rolling off the throttle rather than activating the brakes. Motorists should keep this in mind, especially when behind a motorcycle at an intersection. The stopping distance for a motorcycle is about the same as cars, but much more difficult on slippery pavement. In general, it's best to create a three or four second following space when driving behind a motorcycle. Contrary to popular belief, motorcyclists frequently change or adjust lane position for safety reasons, not for showboating. While there's always going to be a group of reckless drivers for any type of machine on the road, motorcyclists generally adjust their lane positions for reasons that include minimizing the effect of road debris and wind as well as to pass vehicles. Motorcycles are known for their maneuverability, but just like the people that drive them, they are not without fault. Avoid any actions aimed to test a motorcyclist's driving skills. One driving misstep could have terrible consequences not only for the motorcyclist, but for other motorists in the area as well. When a motorcycle is in your presence, think of it as a person, not a machine. Having a better awareness of motorcycles when in their presence and having an enhanced knowledge of how they function will create a safer environment for everyone on the road. If you are a motorcyclist and have the unfortunate experience of being in an accident in the future, call a motorcycle accident lawyer immediately. Even if your injuries seem minor, you will likely be entitled to some form of compensation. Sources: Motorcycle Safety Foundation. "Ten Things all Car & Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles." http://www.msf-usa.org/downloads/Motorist_Awareness_tips.pdf National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "2008 Motorcycle Traffic Safety Facts." About the Author: Michael Silvers, a California personal injury attorney is the author of this article about motorcycle accidents and motorcycle accident lawyers. Silvers specializes in handling car accidents, motorcycle accidents , wrongful death cases, and all other personal injury motor accidents.
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