Lane change accidents are not uncommon. When they happen to motorcycles, though, they can be far more serious than when they happen to passenger vehicles. A lane change accident is when a driver does not check his or her blind spot and ends up driving into another vehicle in some way, shape, or form.
Why Do Motorcycle Lane Change Accidents Happen
Did you know motorcycle riders are 29 times more likely to die in a collision than people in cars? On average, lane change accidents between motorcycles and cars occur because:
- One of the drivers failed to look before leaving his or her lane
- One of the drivers was driving in the other’s “blind spot”
- One of the drivers was intoxicated, high, or drugged with prescription medication
- One of the drivers was distracted (texting, putting on make-up)
- One of the drivers had “road rage” and was maneuvering his or her vehicle erratically
- One of the drivers was speeding
- One of the drivers passed too closely
- The driver who switched lanes did not put his or her turn signal on
- The motorcyclist was “splitting lanes,” meaning that he or she was driving between cars on the lane lines
Lane change collisions can be the fault of either the motorcycle rider or the driver of the passenger vehicle.
Understanding the Danger of Blind Spots
Motor vehicles have what are called “blind spots” when looking out the windows and into the mirrors. The blind spot is located just outside the rear doors (the back seat, not the back hatch or tailgate). The only way to check if your blind spot is clear before changing lanes is to actually turn your eyes away from the road, turn your neck as far back as it goes and look in that blind spot area.
Far too many drivers do not make this effort. They say they don’t want to risk throwing their necks out or that traffic is too heavy to glance over their shoulder for a second. Sadly, many drivers are not diligent enough. Drivers need to always be checking their blind spots when changing lanes or merging. Because motorcycles are smaller than cars, it can be harder to see them with a flash of an over-the-shoulder glance. A driver who doesn’t thoroughly check his or her blind spot can easily sideswipe a motorcyclist.
Car Vs. Motorcycle
The size difference between cars (3,000-4,000 pounds), semi-trucks (80,000 pounds), and motorcycles (a few hundred pounds) is drastic. Clearly, this puts motorcycles at a serious disadvantage. In practically all lane change accidents, the motorcycle driver (and passenger) will fare worse in the end. With no airbags, built-in roll cage, crumple zones, or seatbelts, the car always “wins,” so to speak. In just a minor crash, a motorcyclist can fall off his or her bike.
Motorcyclists in helmets and proper motorcycle jackets are still extremely vulnerable. Once thrown from his or her bike, a motorcyclist typically skids across the road, possibly into on-coming traffic, or is just thrown directly into oncoming traffic. Once he or she finally stops, now the motorcyclist is lying in the road, which is also not a place anyone wants to be. Bottom line: motorcycle lane change accidents are dangerous any way you look at it.
Motorcycle Visibility on the Roadway
Statistics show 75% of motorcycle accidents are caused by the other driver not seeing the motorcycle. If you are a motorcyclist, to increase your roadway visibility, it is crucial to wear high-visibility motorcycle clothing. A study found that motorcycle riders wearing fluorescent or bright/reflective clothing are 37% less likely to wind up in a collision.
Motorcycle jackets, in particular, are designed to be seen and to protect, as they have built-in padding and protective plates. For example, a brightly colored Alpinestars jacket with reflective strips sewn into it is a much safer option than a regular black leather jacket. Plus, the leather jacket isn’t going to have the elbow and shoulder protection that an Alpinestars jacket does. Have you ever seen a motorcycle rider in August in just gym shorts and a t-shirt? Sitting on a hot engine while wearing a heavy, tight helmet, and a padded jacket, with full-length pants in a Texas summer heat wave is a burden. Safety comes first, though. Be seen. Be safe.
Increase Your Visibility
Other ways motorcyclists can improve the likelihood of being seen by other motorists is to simply wave or make eye contact. While it sounds a bit corny, it does work. Another way motorcyclists can improve visibility on the road is to slow down. If a motorcycle is zipping between cars to split lanes and buzzing past people, other drivers have a much harder time seeing the approaching “blur.” Additionally, turning on a headlight—day or night—has research-based benefits for being seen more. This is why particularly accident-prone stretches of highway legally require drivers to put their headlights on. It works! Finally, two motorcycles driving together significantly increases the likelihood of being seen as your “duo” occupies more space on the road. In fact, the more motorcycles, the better. This is why motorcycle police officers rarely travel solo.
Overlooked Motorcycle Safety Tips
With so many extreme weather events recently, record hurricane seasons, unusual rainfall, and high temperatures, checking the weather forecast before a long ride has never been more important. If you’re planning a long motorcycle trip, be extra cautious and prepare as much in advance as you possibly can. Check the weather before you leave, during pit stops, and at the first sign of clouds on the horizon. Be open to the idea of taking the bus, taking an Uber or Lyft, or driving your car instead.
Contact Our San Antonio Motorcycle Lawyers Today!
If a car or truck drifted into your lane, causing injury to you on your motorcycle, Cesar Ornelas Injury Law is here to help you get the compensation you deserve. We handle motorcycle injury cases every day. Our San Antonio personal injury lawyers are standing by to answer any questions you may have. Call 855-956-0086 to get started or visit our contact form.
Originally from Kyle, Texas, Mr. Ornelas is a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation attorney.
Licensed in Texas, Cesar Ornelas’s nationwide practice is entirely contingency fee-based and consists of a wide variety of catastrophic personal injury and death cases. He has represented countless victims of catastrophic accidents across the United States.