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Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on September 1st, 2015,
by Zane Cagle

Cars vs. Motorcycle Debate: Awareness and Perception

Posted on September 1st, 2015 by Zane Cagle

motorycle seasonIf You’re Aware, Then You are More Likely to See Motorcyclist (and other vehicles)

In the Midwest, we typically see motorcyclists in the spring, summer and early fall.  By the time awareness is raised to look for motorcycles….it becomes winter.

Seemingly, there is a debate between motorcyclists and those “people in cages” (car and truck drivers) regarding who is more to blame for motorcycle crashes.

In the news, we read and hear arguments from both sides. Some motorcycle riders complain that other drivers do not look out for them and needlessly endanger them.  At the same time, some car/truck drivers say that motorcycle riders don’t look out for themselves, cut in and out of traffic, and in general, are just more reckless.


We All Share the Road: Perception and Awareness

In Florida, where motorcyclists can ride just about 12 months out of the year, researchers have examined 10 years of Florida motorcycle crashes. The two major points I was gleaned from the article include the importance of Perception and Awareness.  Chanyoung Lee, a senior researcher at the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, found that 60 percent of the motorists in other vehicles are at fault when they collide with motorcycles.

“There is  a bias by people driving. They don’t expect to see motorcycles”, said Lee.  While other drivers do not expect to see motorcycles, motorcyclists do bear a lot of responsible as well. They have significantly higher number of single-vehicle crashes than other drivers. Meaning, they crash on their own without another vehicle. This would make logical sense to us—they do have to work at balance as well as driving.  However, in severe and fatal motorcycle crashes involving multiple vehicles, greater blame falls on four-wheeled drivers and most motorcycle crashes involve other vehicles.

While the study was done in Florida, the key points of the study still apply to Missouri and Illinois.

Perception—People perceive the speed of something relative to the size of the object.

Example: You see a pick-up truck barreling down a side street at 45 mph, it may appear far more intimidating than a motorcycle going at the same speed. Therefore, drivers are more likely to yield the right-of-way for the truck rather than the motorcycle. In general, we could even make the statement that we take larger objects on the roadway more serious.  This is only logical!  If you are in a passenger vehicle and semi-truck is coming into your lane on the interstate, it becomes a much more threatening event than if a motorcycle comes into your lane!  It’s natural–it’s your perceived level of threat.  Likewise, semi-truck drivers view passenger vehicles as lower levels of threat.  However, as we all know—perception is not always reality.

Awareness–It’s Critical to be on the Lookout

In Lee’s driver study, the FDOT asked people how often they see motorcycles.  Those without motorcycle endorsements on their driver’s licenses reported seeing motorcycles all the time while those without endorsements who live in the same area reported only seeing motorcycles occasionally.  “If you are aware of it, you see it”, said Lee.

Again, this makes sense.  If you witness a motorcycle crash or if you have a friend or family member that rides–or if you ride, you naturally will see other motorcycles. Those who stick to four-wheeled transportation may not be as naturally aware. Frankly, driver who are not “aware” of motorcycles create the biggest hazards to motorcyclists.

What Can I Do?

No matter what number of wheels you chose, it is important that you Keep a Lookout for motorcyclist and bicyclists.  Ok, I will state the obvious—you should be on the lookout for any person on the roadway whether they are in a vehicle or on a motorcycle.

Motorcyclists can choose to wear reflective clothing and obey traffic laws. Unfortunately, motorcyclists have to drive defensively. Often, motorcyclists cannot assume anyone can see them which becomes treacherous at intersections, specially if a car is making a turn in front of them. Lane changes on interstates are also very difficult as often motorcyclists can be in another vehicle’s blind spot.  As a passenger vehicle driver, use your mirrors and your windows to check for other drivers and riders.

Our Point–Be Aware!

We still have a few months of motorcycle season left in the greater St Louis area.  One of the very reasons we share articles of this nature is to increase Awareness.  Increased awareness of other vehicles improves safety  and reduces the number of car crashes as well as motorcycle crashes.

If you are driving any kind of vehicle, you have to constantly be AWARE of your surroundings including pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident of any kind and are injured, it is important to consult an expert personal injury attorney as soon as possible.  Avoid the Five Most Common Mistakes After a Car Accident in Missouri and call us seven days a week for a free consultation, locally 314.276.1681 or toll free 1.800.685.3302