We are now in the midst of the Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, acknowledged each May to make drivers aware and alert to motorcycles that share the roads with them. However, drivers still have so much to learn.
Consider the April 13 death of a 55-year-old motorcyclist in Gloucester County. In the mid-afternoon collision, the motorcyclist crashed into the passenger side of a pickup operated by a driver who failed to yield to the motorcyclist. Avoidable tragedies like this one stress the importance of nationwide motorcycle safety campaigns.
A common mistake: left turn in front of motorcycle
According to the New Jersey Department of Law and Safety, a total of 78 people died in motorcycle-related crashes in 2020. The amount marked a 7% decline in fatalities from the 84 recorded in the previous year. However, that number is higher than the average 74 motorcycle-related fatalities recorded from 2016 to 2020.
Why do collisions occur between motorcycles and other vehicles? Here are some common reasons:
- Left turns in front of a motorcycle: Whether they misjudge the distance between their vehicles and an approaching motorcycle or the speed the bike, drivers make this mistake that often proves fatal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 41% of the nearly 2,500 fatal crashes in 2019 involving a motorcycle and another vehicle were attributed to the driver making a left turn in front of the motorcycle.
- Careless lane change: When this happens, drivers veer into the path of motorcycle traveling in the adjacent lane. These drivers often fail to check their blind spots. Other times, inattentive or distracted driving are contributing factors.
- Smashing into the rear of the motorcycle: Motorcyclists are vulnerable when stopped in traffic. Such a crash can lead to serious and debilitating injuries.
Driving mistakes can be avoided as long as drivers follow traffic laws, follow safety guidelines and pay attention.
A message that saves lives
Too many lives are lost and too many people sustain severe injuries when motor vehicles collide with motorcycles. Let us hope that drivers take to heart the messages promoted by Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and embrace them every time they get behind the wheel.