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Motorcyclists: are cars able to see you?

You are patiently waiting your turn at a four-way intersection. After the car on your right drives ahead, it is your turn to go. You start turning left and are startled to find that the car on your left is driving towards you.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon. Most motorcycle accidents occur in intersections, and approximately a third of motorcycle accidents occur when vehicles turn in front of a moving motorcycle. Why do vehicles act as though motorcycles are not there?

Motorcycles are difficult to see

Motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles on the road. Drivers can easily miss a motorcycle when they quickly glance around to check for traffic. Be careful to stay out of drivers’ blind spots, and make sure that other drivers see you before you change lanes or turn into an intersection. Make eye contact with the other driver when possible. If you do not think that the other driver sees you, do not drive forward.

Because of their smaller size, some motorcyclists swerve through traffic, and drive between lanes when traffic is slow. Although lane splitting is not expressly illegal in Missouri, it is incredibly dangerous. Vehicles are not expecting a motorcycle to shoot by them in traffic, especially when other vehicles are slowly moving around them. Another vehicle can easily change lanes right as you are trying to pass.

Motorcycles speeds are hard to judge

It is difficult for drivers to determine how far away a motorcycle is, and how fast the motorcyclist is driving. Motorcycles are much more infrequently seen than other vehicle types. Drivers are not accustomed to estimating a motorcycle’s speed and movement patterns. Always drive defensively. Assume that other vehicles do not see you, and be prepared to adjust your position if a vehicle gets too close to your space.

Make yourself visible

Now that you know that other vehicles have trouble spotting you on the road, work to make yourself known. Wear bright colors that are easy to identify from a distance. Avoid riding your motorcycle at night or during periods of poor visibility. Be vigilant about using your headlight, and do not hesitate to use your horn. If a driver performs an uncomfortable maneuver near you, a quick beep can quickly signal your presence and keep you safe on your journey.

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