Every May, the nation recognizes Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a campaign focused on reducing severe injuries and deaths among motorcycle enthusiasts and their passengers. However, the fatalities and injuries continue, partially due to the mistakes and behavior of car, SUV, pickup and truck drivers.
In Virginia, more than 1,500 people were injured and nearly 90 died in crashes involving motorcycles in 2020, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
Left turns, lane changes
Of the more than 1,800 motorcycle crashes in 2020 in Virginia, 82% led to injuries (77%) or fatalities (5%). And of the more than 1,500 motorcycle drivers and passengers injured, 680 or 45% sustained severe injuries. Also, 48 of the 87 motorcycle-related fatalities in the commonwealth that year were the result of multi-vehicle crashes.
Too often crashes involving motorcycles are caused by car drivers who make these common mistakes:
- Left turns in front of motorcycles: Drivers may misjudge the speed of the motorcycle as well as the distance between their two vehicles. When such a driver maneuver occurs, a motorcyclist usually cannot avoid a collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that this driver mistake accounted for 41% of the nearly 2,500 fatal crashes involving motorcycles and other vehicles in the U.S. in 2019.
- Crashing from the rear into a motorcycle: These collisions often occur at intersections where a motorcyclist has stopped his or her bike. Such a collision likely would be a fender-bender among cars. However, such a crash could lead to serious and life-changing injuries for a motorcyclist.
- Making a lane change into motorcycle’s path: Car drivers, sometimes, fail to check their blind spots and make this maneuver. Other times, they are distracted while talking on the phone or texting and veer into the motorcycle’s path.
Mistakes like these continue to lead to avoidable collisions with motorcycles.
A message getting through
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month remains a worthwhile campaign. If it prevents even a single crash with injuries in Virginia, then you know that its message has gotten through.