Based on figures from the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), distracted driving played a factor in 80 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle rider. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving injures 20,000 motorcycle riders and kills another 400 to 500 annually. Distracted driving encompasses a wide range of behaviors:
- Talking on the phone
- Eating or reading
- Applying makeup
- Brushing hair
- Talking to other passengers
- Tuning the radio
- Wearing headphones
- Using a GPS
All of these actions can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, increasing the chance they will miss a stop sign, go through an intersection or hit a passing vehicle. Motorcycles are particularly vulnerable, due to their smaller size and lack of enclosure. Motorists may misjudge how far away a bike is or miss a motorcycle in their blind spot.
Especially in early spring, drivers may not be expecting to see motorcycles and could react too late. As a rider, keep your head on a swivel and always proceed into intersections with caution. For your safety, what else should you think about?
Dangers of Phone Use Behind the Wheel
At any given moment, an estimated 800,000 US drivers are texting behind the wheel. This behavior is responsible for:
- 1.6 million accidents annually
- 25 percent of all car accidents
- Elevated crash risks
- Decreased brake reaction
- 11 teen deaths every day
As of 2018, 16 states and the District of Columbia ban talking on a cell phone or other hand-held device while driving. Forty-seven states and D.C. forbid texting and driving.
Identifying Distracted Driving
As a motorcycle rider, how can you tell someone is distracted behind the wheel?
- They weave in and out of traffic
- They drive over the center line
- You spot them wearing headphones
- They brake suddenly
- Their vehicle stays stopped at a green light
Once you’ve identified these signs:
- Give the distracted driver as much space as possible.
- Keep yourself visible, avoiding driver blind spots.
- Use your daytime running lights.
- Never cross in front of the car, unless you’ve made eye contact with the driver.
- Honk your horn.
- Never behave aggressively toward the distracted driver.
How do you deal with distracted drivers? Visit our Facebook page to share your tips and strategies with other riders.