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A Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer Shares Experts' Advice on Preventing Crashes Between Motorcycles and Tractor-Trailers

 

An in-depth analysis of police reports on crashes involving motorcycles and one other vehicle revealed that 6-8 percent of fatal wrecks involved large trucks such as 18-wheelers, other types of tractor-trailers, haulers and construction equipment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study also found that motorcycle riders were overwhelming likely to die in collisions with large trucks.

The percentage may not seem high, but keep in mind that serious injuries are not reported by NHTSA. Also, the total numbers of fatalities for motorcycle riders across the United States each year ranges from around 4,200 to 5,300.

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Riders and truckers can both do much to prevent crashes. Here are expert recommendations for sharing the road safely and respectfully.

How Truck Drivers Can Keep Motorcyclist Alive and Uninjured

Failure to yield right of way is the most common reason drivers hit and harm motorcycle riders. Consequently, the Texas Department of Transportation advises drivers to

  • Look twice for motorcycles, especially at intersections.
  • Always assume motorcycles are closer than they appear to be, and avoid turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
  • Use your turn signals and check your blind spot before changing lanes.
  • Give motorcyclists a full lane.

TXDOT also acknowledges the prevalence of drivers rear-ending motorcyclists by reminding operators of passenger vehicles and commercial trucks

  • Don’t follow a motorcycle too closely.
  • Obey posted speed limits.

The Missouri Department of Revenue details several of the above safe driving practices in a handbook for commercial drivers, writing

  • It is not always easy to judge the speed or distance of a motorcycle.
  • On residential streets, especially those with parked cars, travel at or below the speed limit, depending on sight distance.
  • Motorcyclists change speed and lane position when encountering bad road conditions, such as manhole covers, diagonal railroad tracks, road debris, or in strong winds. Be ready to react. …
  • When you are passing, give motorcycles a full lane width. Do not squeeze past these road users. Wait for a clear stretch of road before passing a cyclist in a lane too narrow to share.

How Motorcyclists Can Protect Themselves From Collisions With Large Trucks

The most important thing motorcycle riders can do to avoid truck crashes is avoid trucks. Specifically, riders should stay out of truck drivers’ blind spots. Here is what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has to say about that:

  • A commercial motor vehicle has large blind spots around all four sides.
  • Take extra care in passing and being passed by large trucks and buses.
  • Stay out of blind spots when a truck or bus is turning, backing up or changing lanes.
  • Large vehicles need longer following distance to see vehicles behind them. If you can’t see the driver in his or her side mirror, the driver can’t see you.

Motorcyclists can also help themselves by sticking to the posted speed limit and wearing a properly fitted full-enclosure helmet. Slowing down gives riders more time to recognize and react to crash dangers. Investing in and consistently using a high-quality motorcycle helmet reduces risks for fatal head injuries and disabling traumatic brain injuries.

EJL

 

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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