Texas’s warm climate makes it the perfect place for motorcyclists to take to the road almost year-round. Some consider riding a motorcycle inherently dangerous, but other drivers put them most at risk. It is up to the drivers of passenger vehicles to help keep motorcyclists safe by following a few key rules. Some of those rules include laws that help keep all riders safe. Other rules include common-sense strategies that can help decrease the risk to motorcycle riders on the road and increase the odds that everyone will reach their destinations safely.
Motorcycles Are Entitled to Their Own Lanes
Texas law holds that motorcycles have the right to their own traffic lane, just like a passenger vehicle. Often, the drivers of passenger vehicles will try to encroach on a motorcycle’s lane in the effort to get around a slower-moving car or save time. Unfortunately, this simple action can force the bike off the road and make it more difficult for the driver to stay safe.
When sharing the road with motorcycles, allow them the same reasonable space that you would provide a larger passenger vehicle.
Checking for Motorcycles
Texas regulations note that you should always exercise extra care when looking out for motorcycles around you. That may mean double-checking traffic at intersections, especially if you have noticed the presence of a motorcycle around you on the road or checking twice before changing lanes. Motorcycles, in general, fit a much smaller visual profile than the average passenger vehicle, which may make them harder to notice and keep track of. By looking twice, you can reduce the odds that you will accidentally cause a motorcycle accident.
Following a Motorcycle
Safe driving practices designate a safe following distance when sharing the road with any vehicle. When sharing the road with a motorcycle, especially when traveling directly behind a motorcycle, you may want to extend the following distance you would use for other purposes.
Motorcycles, in general, remain much more maneuverable than the average passenger vehicle due to their lighter size. That means that a motorcycle can stop or change direction more quickly than you. Allowing a larger following distance can help ensure that you do not inadvertently put the rider in danger.
Under poor weather conditions or on dangerous terrain, including roads with sharp turns, you may want to increase your following distance further. Motorcycle accidents can occur in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, motorcycle riders may lose control because they fail to notice the presence of gravel in the road, or because they hit an unexpected slick patch. Pulling the motorcycle back under control may prove difficult. Allowing more distance can help prevent you from hitting a motorcycle rider who has lost control or even already wrecked his bike.
In short, slow down, back up, and leave plenty of space for motorcycle riders.
Texas law forbids texting and driving throughout the state. In some cities, you cannot use your phone at all. In general, you should avoid texting, programming your GPS, or engaging in any other activities that could take your attention off the road. However, when sharing the road with a motorcycle, avoiding distraction can prove even more essential. Keep your attention on the road while driving, avoiding cell phone use and other distractions that could increase the risk of an accident.
Share the Road
Motorcycles have the same right to use the road as other, larger passenger vehicles. Some people have an internal bias against motorcycle riders, especially those that drive louder or flashier models. Others may simply assume that the motorcycle rider does not have the right to use the road the same way passenger vehicle riders do.
However, when sharing the road with a motorcycle, follow the same rules as when sharing the road with other vehicles.
Yield right of way when a motorcycle enters an intersection before you do. Follow traffic signs and signals, including red lights and stop signs. Pay careful attention when merging, and do not take up space that belongs to a motorcycle.
By adhering to those clear traffic regulations, you create a safer environment for all drivers on the road, including motorcycle riders. Following traffic rules makes your behavior more predictable. This can help other drivers plot their own actions and decrease the risk of collision for everyone.
When changing lanes near a motorcycle, allow as much room as you would near a car. Motorcycles need you to give them enough room for you to pass them safely.
Sometimes, the rush of air from your vehicle moving through the space can blow a motorcycle sideways or backward, leaving the rider partially out of control. Some riders, particularly newer riders, may have a harder time responding to that danger. By allowing adequate room around you, on the other hand, you may create a safer environment.
Contact a Lawyer After a Motorcycle Accident
If you get into an accident as a motorcycle rider who shared the road with a driver who did not adhere to Texas laws, you may deserve compensation for an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Contact a lawyer to learn more about your rights after a motorcycle accident.