An important reminder during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
There's a reason New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment: our state is full of breathtaking scenery, and there are few better ways to experience our roads than on the back of a motorcycle. However, bikers can also be at risk of severe injury or death in accidents, often caused by other drivers.
On average, about 50 bikers lose their lives on New Mexico roads each year, according to NMDOT data. And the same data shows that the stakes for motorcyclists are high: nearly 84 percent of motorcycle riders and passengers involved in accidents are injured or killed, compared to just 20 percent of people in passenger cars.
While road safety is a shared responsibility, the greater responsibility falls on people in enclosed vehicles because of the unique risks motorcyclists face. We're participating in Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month because we've seen over and over again what can happen when a biker is involved in a preventable motorcycle accident. Here's what New Mexico motorists need to know about sharing the road.
How to drive safely around motorcycles
NMDOT has compiled several safety tips for sharing the road with motorcycles, including:
- Give the biker full lane width. A motorcycle may be a much narrower vehicle than a car, but it still needs the full width of the lane. Motorcyclists often need to change position within their lane to maneuver around obstacles that a car could simply drive over. Always give a biker full lane width when passing, turning, or driving in an adjacent lane.
- Maintain a safe following distance. Motorcycles have a much shorter stopping distance than cars. Moreover, bikers often slow down by downshifting instead of braking, which means there may not be brake lights to warn you. Always maintain at least three to four seconds of following distance to ensure you have time to avoid rear-ending a biker.
- Don't trust the turn signal. Unlike cars, motorcycles have turn signals that often don't turn off automatically. If you see a turn signal, always wait to confirm that the biker is actually turning before you proceed.
- Check twice at intersections. Many motorcycle crashes happen at intersections when a motorist doesn't see the biker before making a left turn in their path. Always look twice for oncoming bikers and cyclists.
- Check your blind spots. Many motorcycle crashes involve a motorist changing lanes or turning into the biker's path, which can either cause a sideswipe collision or force the motorcyclist off the road. Double-check your blind spots before making any maneuvers.
- Avoid distracted and impaired driving. Motorcycles are easily overlooked by distracted or drunk drivers because of their small size. When you are behind the wheel, your top priority must always be safely operating your vehicle.
Above all, motorists must remember that motorcycles are vehicles, and bikers have just as much right to be on the road as any other operator. Drive defensively, use your turn signals, follow the rules of the road, and yield the right of way to a motorcycle, just as you would to a car. Sharing the road effectively is the key to keeping motorcyclists and every other road user safe.
If you've been injured in a New Mexico motorcycle accident, we can help.
Injured bikers have rights under New Mexico law. If you've been hurt, you should be compensated for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other costs related to your injuries. However, getting full compensation is often a difficult task. The insurance companies know there is a bias against bikers, and they use it to their advantage. They employ teams of attorneys and adjusters to protect their interests. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can level the playing field.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, get a proven fighter with the experience and resources to achieve meaningful results. Contact the Szantho Law Firm today for a free consultation. We serve injured bikers in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and throughout New Mexico.