By Art Liggio, President and CEO, Driving Dynamics
Spring has finally sprung, bringing budding trees and flowers, the sounds and smells of nature, and with warmer weather also comes the vroom, vroom heard as motorcycle enthusiasts eagerly emerge onto roadways in growing numbers to enjoy a much anticipated riding season. Unfortunately this carefree happy scene can quickly turn deadly: motorcyclists are 26 more times likely to die in a crash and five times more likely to be injured than drivers of other vehicles, but with conscious effort we can help reduce these statistics.
According to the International Transport Forum on safety, motorcycle related fatalities continue to rise in many countries and the problem demands urgent attention. More than 100 safety experts from 21 countries agree that responsible behavior and awareness by motorcycle riders and the drivers with whom they share the road will play a key role in reducing the risk of motorcycle crashes.
Case studies conducted over the past several years have identified that approximately one half of all motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Statistics reveal that the leading cause of those crashes occurs at intersections when a driver turns left in front of the motorcycle rider. Drivers often misjudge the speed and distance of the oncoming motorcycle; other times, drivers just fail to see the rider—either way it’s a set up for a tragic situation.
It is important to understand that the brain is programmed to see what it expects to typically see—standard to large size vehicles. As a result, drivers regularly fail to spot a motorcycle until it’s upon them, even though it was clearly located in their field of vision much sooner. And yes, motorcycle riders are equally responsible for their own safety, however, their small visual footprint and vehicle limitations do require additional safety considerations by their fellow drivers.
To avoid missing critical details, look farther ahead and regularly scan your mirrors so you have more time to see and identify what’s around you. Don’t be a passive thinker and allow your brain to arbitrarily sort critical traffic details into useless, unidentifiable information. Having the confidence in your own ability to safely navigate the roadway alongside motorcycles is largely dependent upon your vigilance and increased awareness of their presence. Smart, safe drivers are always aware of locations and movements of the other vehicles with which they share the road.
When on the road with a motorcycle rider, be a smart and responsible driver: increase the safety zone and keep a sizable following distance around and between each of your vehicles. Building space increases available reaction time, making it possible for you to respond more quickly to unexpected and changing conditions, and therefore avoiding a potential collision. Don’t think the smaller size of a motorcycle means a smaller safety zone is adequate. Stay alert and give motorcycles the same respect you would larger vehicles. By actively using visual recognition and road sharing techniques in your everyday driving routine, you’ll be a safer driver in all driving conditions and circumstances no matter the season.
Safety & Risk is presented by Driving Dynamics an accomplished provider of impactful driver safety training and risk management services. Continually building and delivering programs based on sound research, proven learning methodologies and expert instruction, we are dedicated to improving drivers’ abilities to stay safe by leveraging risk management tools, principle-based learning and applied techniques.
The One Second Advantage™ safety training principle developed by Driving Dynamics is rooted in research that shows 90 percent of all traffic crashes can be avoided when the driver has just one more second to react and knows what to do with that additional second. Driving Dynamics encourages all drivers to Steer Toward Safety™
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