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A threat to motorcyclists: Drivers suddenly changing lanes

A motorcycle ride is not supposed to include a collision with a car. But this can happen when the driver decides to change traffic lanes, veering right into your path. Startled, you do your best to avoid the crash, but you cannot do so.

This scenario represents one of the most common ways that a crash happens between a motorcycle and another motor vehicle. Life-changing and fatal injuries for a motorcyclist and his or her passenger often are the outcomes.

Be aware of blind spots and anticipate lane changes

Motorcyclists have long understood that their bikes fit into a driver’s blind spots and that car drivers typically are not conditioned to see them, thus veering into the path.

But how could you have avoided this situation? Here are some safety tips:

  • Understand where a driver’s blind spots exist: Spend only a scant amount of time in those blind spots.
  • Determine where lane changes may be more likely to happen: For example, slowing traffic may lead to impatient drivers who will want to move into the faster traffic lane. Avoid being in the spaces that these drivers want to be. Also, be on the alert for speeding and reckless drivers who dart in and out of traffic lanes.
  • Remain alert to the signs that a car will change lanes: The obvious signs are the use of turn signals, the turning of the car’s wheels, the movement of the driver’s head, and the driver checking his or her mirrors. But, sometimes, you will have to anticipate a driver’s move, especially if you suspect a distracted driver looking at his or her cellphone.

In 2020, traffic accidents killed close to 5,600 motorcyclists and led to the injuries of nearly 83,000 on U.S. roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With 600 deaths that year, Florida had the dubious distinction of being the state with the highest number of motorcycle fatalities.

Remain alert to distracted and negligent drivers

Sometimes, unexpected things happen on the road. This includes when an inattentive, negligent or distracted driver veers into the traffic space occupied by you and your motorcycle. Motorcyclists need to remain alert to these potential road hazards. It just may save their lives.

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