During the long New York winters, you probably count the days until summer when you can get back on your motorcycle and enjoy the freedom, even if it's only to get to work. Maybe you ride for convenience, for the savings on gas or for the camaraderie of the motorcycle community, but you can also admit that it is more fun than driving a car.
It is also far more dangerous, and motorcycle enthusiasts are often the first to admit that it is risky to ride among other traffic. You may unwaveringly obey New York's helmet laws, wear protective clothing and follow the traffic rules for your own safety. Nevertheless, there are common hazards you and other bikers compete with each time you ride.
What you must look out for
Driver distraction is a growing danger for anyone on the road, but motorcyclists may be among the most vulnerable. Those who operate larger vehicles are frequently unaware of the presence of motorcyclists even when they are paying attention to their driving. Adding the distraction of a mobile device, navigational system or any of the countless activities drivers perform behind the wheel is a recipe for tragedy, often resulting in these situations:
- A driver who drifts over the center line into your lane
- A driver who does not notice you before opening the car door
- Drivers who do not signal or check over their shoulders before changing lanes
- A car that turns into your path or crosses in front of you at an intersection
- A driver who comes up behind you at an intersection or a traffic jam and does not see that you are stopped
Even in summer, you have to deal with bad weather conditions. Rain reduces your traction and visibility. You also must manage debris or gravel in the roads and your own occasional mistakes operating your motorcycle. However, the behavior of other drivers is out of your control. With the minimal protection your bike and safety equipment provide, it may not take more than the clipping of another vehicle to send you into a devastating crash.
Despite the years of public service programs and safety campaigns designed to educate the public to be alert to the presence of motorcycles, many drivers fail to show bikers the respect they deserve. More than just a lack of consideration for your right to be on the road, the careless actions of another driver may result in catastrophic injuries.