May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. It is a month in which government agencies and other institutions at all levels will remind motorcyclists and other drivers about what they can do to avoid motorcycle accidents.
For Minnesota drivers, May is a good time to think about motorcycle awareness.
At the most basic level, motorcycle awareness means that drivers need to pay careful attention and follow the traffic rules. Really, this is good advice for any driver and in all circumstances.
To prevent motorcycle accidents, drivers need to avoid distractions and other bad habits like speeding or trying to beat traffic lights at intersections.
Motorcycle awareness is not just about keeping an eye out for motorcycles
However, paying attention for motorcycles is just the first step of motorcycle awareness.
Drivers of other vehicles also need to appreciate how motorcycles are in many ways different from cars. These differences present special safety issues that Minnesota drivers need to understand.
Most obviously, motorcycles are smaller than cars. This makes them harder to see than many other objects. It is also means that motorcycles may more easily wind up in a car’s blind spot, especially in heavier traffic where a motorcycle driver cannot quickly pass a car.
On a related point, drivers at intersections may have a harder time judging how fast a motorcycle approaching on the cross street is approaching.
It is never a wise idea for drivers to try to enter an intersection in front of a motorcycle, even if it looks like there is enough distance to do so.
Finally, motorcycle drivers frequently slow down by shifting gears rather than applying the brakes, since doing this is safer. Drivers need to give motorcyclists some additional following distance.
Drivers should also be aware that they may not see a brake light before a motorcyclist slows down.
After a motorcycle accident, a victim may have an option to pursue an inattentive or careless driver for compensation.