5 tips to help North Carolina drivers share the road with motorcycles

Motorcycle accidents are common and may result in serious injuries or death, but by taking precautions, drivers can safely share the roads with motorcycles.

Each day, people in Fayetteville, and throughout North Carolina, share the roads with motorcycles. All too often, however, collisions occur, resulting in serious injuries and death for those involved. In fact, more than 3,300 motorcyclists were injured in such collisions in 2013, according to the state's Department of Transportation. Close to 150 motorcyclists were killed that same year. While some accidents are unavoidable, there are steps that drivers can take to safely share the streets and highways with motorcycles.

Do not share lanes

Road conditions, such as wet streets, gravel and potholes, may be minor inconveniences, or even go unnoticed, for most drivers in cars, trucks, SUVs and other automobiles. For motorcyclists, however, these conditions can be major hazards, and they may need to maneuver or adjust suddenly in order to avoid them. As such, it is advisable that drivers give motorcycles ample room. This includes allowing motorcyclists a full lane width, and refraining from sharing lanes.

Allow enough following distance

Due in large part to their small size, it can be difficult for drivers to judge the speed and distance of motorcycles. Furthermore, some motorcycles may not brake when they are slowing down. Consequently, it is important for drivers to allow enough following distance between themselves and motorcycles so that the motorcyclists are able to maneuver or stop suddenly in the event of an emergency. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, recommends people allow a distance of at least three to four seconds.

Check blind spots

Their compact size makes it easy for people to lose motorcycles in their blind spots. Sometimes, this leads to motorcycle collisions because drivers may change lanes or turn without seeing there is a motorcycle there. Therefore, drivers are advised to check their mirrors and blind spots often. It is also recommended that people use the signals on their own vehicles to make other motorists aware of their intentions, and helps them to anticipate traffic flow.

Be aware of signals

In general, motorcycles do not operate the same as other motor vehicles. The NHTSA points out that the signals on these vehicles are not typically self-cancelling. This may lead to them being left on when a motorcyclist does not plan to change lanes or turn. For that reason, it can be important for drivers to determine what motorcyclists plan to do before proceeding. Assuming their intentions based on their signals, or other factors, could contribute to causing serious motorcycle-automobile wrecks.

Avoid distractions

For motorists, distractions are those activities or behaviors that take their eyes off of the road, hands off of the wheel or mind off the task of driving. When they are not focused, it may be easier for people not to see motorcycles around them. Additionally, they may also be too distracted to take other precautions to safely share the road with motorcycles. As such, drivers should take extra care to avoid distractions when driving, particularly when there are motorcyclists on the roads, in order to reduce their risk of being involved in a collision.

Seek legal guidance

When motorcycle accidents occur in North Carolina, and elsewhere, those injured often require extensive medical treatment. This may cause them to lose income during their recoveries, as well as incur undue medical expenses. Depending on the circumstances, the motorcyclist or driver responsible for causing the crash may be held financially liable. Working with an attorney may help those who have experienced situations such as this to understand their rights and options for pursuing compensation.