How to protect yourself from distracted drivers on a motorcycle

For motorcycle enthusiasts, warmer temperatures mean just one thing—more time cruising down the highway on your favorite bike. It also means you are more likely to encounter a distracted driver. In 2016, over 5,000 fatal motorcycle accidents occurred in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that during the day, there are 481,000 people using their cell phones while they drive. That is potentially a lot of unsafe driving, and that means motorcycle riders need to stay vigilant.

Defensive riding

Motorcyclists should learn to ride defensively. Try not to ride in a vehicle’s blind spots, and stay visible in drivers’ rearview mirrors. Flash your brake lights every time you slow down or are about to stop. When you are on a crowded road, cover your brakes. You never know who is going to react suddenly. Try not to weave in and out of lanes of traffic.

Watch out for signs of a distracted driver

If a vehicle slows down for no apparent reason, it is likely something happened to distract the driver. Did a driver forget to signal? It is possible the driver is doing more than just driving. Maybe a car does not move when the light turns green. That driver might just be finishing up a text message. If you see someone with his or her head angled down and forward, this driver is obviously paying very little attention to the road. In all these instances, you should be cautious and give the driver a wide berth. Distracted drivers may just miss a motorcycle coming up behind or beside them.

Make yourself as visible as possible

With all the possible distractions out there, you should draw as much attention to yourself as possible. Consider wearing bright colors and using headlights even during the day. Though many motorcycle horns are not very loud, honking your horn might force a driver to pay attention to you. In addition to using turn signals, use your hands to signal turns as well.

Try not to get upset when you notice a distracted driver

It is frustrating when someone is careless behind the wheel, but try not to take it as a personal affront. Do not react angrily. In a confrontation with a motorcycle and a car, the car nearly always wins. Instead, shake your head, laugh, and make sure to keep yourself safe.

Distracted driving is not likely to disappear anytime soon. As a motorcyclist, you need to stay aware of your surroundings, drive defensively, and remember to not react angrily. Staying alert and practicing extra safety precautions is your best defense.

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