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Why don’t drivers see motorcyclists?

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Motorcycles look cool, and riders typically like how they look on their bike. But unfortunately, other motorists don’t always see motorcyclists in a similar light. In fact, far too often, drivers don’t see riders at all. 

Drivers aren’t looking for them

Perhaps the most frustrating reason drivers hit motorcyclists they didn’t see is that they simply aren’t looking for them. And even if they are looking, they don’t necessarily see a rider.

Too often, drivers are not paying attention to their surroundings. Drivers can be looking at their phones, changing the music or talking to passengers in the back seat, and they aren’t focused on the road. Cars and trucks are easier to see in peripheral vision than smaller people and vehicles, making a crash more likely.

Motorcyclists are not visible

From riding in blindspots to wearing dark clothing, motorcyclists do not always make themselves as visible as possible. Further, when riders slow down, they might roll off the throttle or downshift, neither of which would activate their brake lights. 

To stay safer, riders can make themselves as visible as possible with these measures:

  • Wearing high-visibility clothing
  • Using signals whenever necessary
  • Staying out of people’s blind spots
  • Ensuring all lights are properly functioning

By taking these steps, riders can make it much easier for motorists to see them.

Physics affects driver perception

Because motorcycles are smaller, it is scientifically more difficult for people to assess their speed and distance accurately. Smaller objects can seem further away and may appear to be moving more slowly.

Thus, drivers can misjudge how long they have to pull out in front of them or cross through an intersection. Motorcyclists can’t necessarily change a driver’s perception, but they can use caution by slowing down around turning traffic and vehicles that may enter the roadway in front of them.

People take risks

Drunk or aggressive drivers might make dangerous, risky decisions on the road, endangering other road users around them. People in a rush might follow others too closely or pull out in front of moving traffic even when there is not enough time to do so safely.

Motorcycling practices like lane splitting or weaving through traffic can also be highly dangerous.

These actions can increase unpredictability and give people less time to see and react to avoid crashes.