How To Drive Safely Around Motorcycles & Bicycles
As a motor vehicle driver in California, it is your responsibility to protect the lives of those around you – especially the road’s most vulnerable users. These are motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. It is your duty to obey traffic laws and drive safely to avoid causing collisions that could be deadly. This Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month (May), learn a few safety tips from our Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers and Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys for driving around motorcycles and bicycles in Southern California.
Respect Their Right to the Road
Drive with respect around bicycles and motorcycles, even if they are traveling at slower speeds than you are or lane splitting next to your vehicle. Bicyclists and motorcyclists have the same rights to the road as you do and deserve their own space to safely operate.
Keep a safe distance when following behind or passing these operators. Provide extra space in inclement weather. Do not tailgate or drive aggressively around them. Do your best to avoid road rage and coexist with bicyclists and motorcyclists to keep everyone safe.
Make Smart Left-Hand Turns
Left-hand turns are a common time for collisions between cars and bicycles or motorcycles. It can be easy for a driver who is making a left-hand turn at a red light or intersection to overlook a crossing bicyclist or an oncoming motorcyclist, or to misjudge the speed or distance of the other vehicle. This can lead to a deadly T-bone accident or head-on collision. Always take your time when turning left and yield to oncoming operators, when applicable.
Bicycles and motorcycles are more prone to accidents in part because of their reduced size. They are much smaller and harder to spot than typical motor vehicles. This makes it even more important to be attentive and check for them when executing a traffic maneuver. Before you make a turn, switch lanes or back out of a parking spot, check twice for bicyclists and motorcyclists. Taking the extra second to check again could save a life.
Dooring is a type of bicycle accident where a motorist opens a door into an oncoming cyclist. These accidents can cause serious injuries from the initial impact as well as ejection from the bicycle, including broken bones and traumatic brain injuries. When you park your car, especially in busy downtown Los Angeles or where there is a bicycle lane, check for oncoming bicyclists in your side mirror before opening your door. Open your door slowly to give a biker time to safely maneuver around you, if necessary.
Practice defensive driving around bicycles and motorcycles to reduce the risk of collisions. Defensive driving means to assume that those around you do not see you or will break traffic laws. For example, assume that a bicyclist will ignore a stop sign and ride through an intersection, rather than assuming the opposite and cutting off the biker. Slow down through intersections and remain aware of your surroundings at all times to help prevent accidents.
Don’t Drive Distracted
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous driver behaviors. Always keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Do not look down at your cell phone, food or beverages, or anything else that could distract you from the driving task. If you drive distracted, you may not notice an oncoming bicycle or motorcycle, and you may end up liable for a car accident.
Obey Traffic Laws
Finally, always obey the traffic laws that apply to you. Obey speed limits, yield the right-of-way when necessary, maintain a proper following distance and follow traffic signals. Following the rules will help keep you out of the same path as bicycles and motorcycles while navigating Los Angeles. Following the rules also means never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drunk driving can significantly increase the risk of a bicycle or motorcycle collision.