In New York, motorcyclists must follow the same traffic laws as other motorists and share the same responsibilities and rights while on the road. Unfortunately, the relatively small size of motorcycles compared to other vehicles means that even careful riders may find themselves at risk from inattentive or reckless drivers, with potentially deadly results.

Motorcyclists may have a reputation for recklessness, but often it is the motorist who is at fault in a collision. According to a recent National Highway Transportation Safety Administration report, 42% of fatal collisions in 2017 involving a motorcyclist and another type of vehicle happened because the driver was turning left while the biker was going straight, overtaking another auto or performing a passing maneuver.

Motorcyclists face unique visibility risks

Drivers involved in a collision with a motorcycle often explain that they did not see the cyclist. While motorists should always prepare to encounter motorcyclists sharing the road, drivers frequently fail to notice or yield to riders for several reasons:

  • Motorcycles are much smaller and less common than the average vehicle, so motorists may not be watching out for them. This is especially true at intersections.
  • Due to their smaller size, motorcycles may appear to be moving faster than they are. Drivers may misjudge the speed and relative distance of a rider.
  • Unlike other vehicles, motorcycles do not take up the entire lane and may move within the lane to avoid obstacles. When passing or entering a freeway, motorists may not notice that a cyclist is already occupying the lane they are entering.

While it is important for all road users to follow traffic regulations and watch out for others, when an auto collides with a motorcycle the results are much more likely to be deadly for the rider. That makes it essential that drivers in larger vehicles keep alert for motorcyclists and respect their right to share the road.