Tips for sharing the road safely with Illinois motorcyclists

Motorcycle accidents occur often, resulting in serious injuries and death, but there are steps that drivers can take to help safely share the roads.

Motorcycles are a popular mode of transportation for people in Chicago, and throughout Illinois. All too often, however, collisions occur involving these and other, larger vehicles. As a result, motorcyclists, other drivers and passengers are often seriously injured or killed. In fact, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports that over 3,300 motorcyclists were injured in accidents, and more than 140 were killed, in 2012 alone. While not all crashes are avoidable, there are steps that drivers can take to help share the roads safely.

Check blind spots

As most people can plainly see, motorcycles are significantly smaller than other vehicles. While this is what makes them desirable to some riders, it can also make it easier for other drivers not to see them on the road. Therefore, it is recommended that people check their mirrors and blind spots frequently when sharing the road with motorcycles. In particular, drivers should double check the traffic around them before turning, changing lanes or merging to help avoid some motorcycle accidents.

Allow extra space

In general, motorcycles handle much differently than other passenger vehicles handle. Riders can turn, accelerate and stop much faster than non-motorcyclists expect. Additionally, there are any number of factors, which could cause a motorcycle rider to fall off of his or her vehicle. As such, it is a good idea for drivers to allow additional space when they are following motorcycles. AARP, Inc. recommends allowing a following distance of at least four seconds.

Avoid sharing lanes

Road conditions and other hazards that may appear on Illinois roads may not affect cars and trucks. They can be very dangerous for motorcycles, however. As a result, motorcyclists may sometimes need to swerve, weave or otherwise adjust in order to avoid them. For this reason, among others, it is advisable that drivers do not share lanes with motorcycles. This allows motorcyclists ample room to maneuver around obstacles should the need arise.

Avoid negligent driving behaviors

Driver carelessness and negligence commonly contributes to causing collisions, including motorcycle accidents. Therefore, it is important for drivers to avoid distractions, which may take their eyes off of the road, hands off the wheel or minds off the task of driving. Additionally, people should refrain from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcoholic beverages. Among other effects, distractions and alcohol impairment may decrease drivers' alertness, which may cause them not to see motorcyclists.

Be respectful of other motorists

For the most part, everyone has a right to be on the roads, and no one motorist is more important than the others. As such, drivers should be respectful of the other people on the road with them, and treat them with the same courtesies that they expect. This includes following the traffic laws and yielding the right of way when appropriate. Furthermore, drivers should use their signals to notify other motorists of their intentions.

Seek legal counsel

Even when people in Illinois are careful, motorcycle accidents may occur and result in serious injuries. Depending on the circumstances, the driver responsible for causing a collision could be held financially liable for any damages incurred, including medical expenses. Those who have suffered injuries in motorcycle crashes may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their rights, and help them to understand their options for pursuing compensation.