Insurance Industry Involvement
Enforcement & Adjudication
Traffic Safety Community
When motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it is usually the other
(non-motorcycle) driver who violates the motorcyclists right-of-way
1998). There is a continuing need to help other motorists
think motorcycles and to educate motorcyclists to be
aware of this problem.
Several factors combine to cause drivers of other vehicles to overlook
motorcyclists and subsequently violate their right-of-way:
Motorcycles and their riders are a relatively small component
of the total traffic mix. Therefore, their visual recognition
Many drivers do not anticipate routine encounters with
motorcyclists in traffic.
Motorcycles are smaller visual targets and are more likely
to be obscured.
Research shows drivers who also ride motorcycles and those with
family members or close friends who ride are more likely to observe
motorcyclists and less likely to collide with them (Brooks,
1990). This indicates that drivers can see motorcyclists,
whom they might otherwise overlook, if they mentally train themselves
to do so. The visual problem is compounded by a variety of visual
limitations confronting drivers:
Automobiles have obstructions and blind spots that can
obscure or hide a motorcycle and rider. These include door pillars,
passengers heads, and areas not visible in the mirrors.
Other conditions affecting the vehiclesuch as precipitation,
glare, and cargocan further impair a drivers view
and obscure motorcyclists.
Objects and environmental factors beyond the vehicle,
including other vehicles, roadside objects, and light patterns
can make it more difficult for drivers to identify motorcyclists
Traditional driver distractions, such as passengers, eating,
smoking, reading, shaving, applying make-up, and managing audio
systems, continue to be a problem and may be increasing as new
distractions emerge. Portable phones and other communication devices,
and features such as in-vehicle navigation systems, which divert
more attention inside the car, may be increasingly distracting
WE WANT TO BE
Motorists should be aware of motorcycles and take special care to
identify and acknowledge their presence. Motorists should avoid
distractions and compensate for visual obstructions.
Motorcyclists should compensate for unaware motorists by increasing
their conspicuity (see Conspicuity,
page 49), lane position, riding with headlights on
during daytime, and wearing brightly colored and retro-reflective
TO GET THERE
Both drivers and motorcyclists need to become more aware of the
visibility problem. Educating drivers to become more aware of motorcycles
and to consistently consider their presence would appear to be a
very promising strategy for improvement in this crucial area. Getting
drivers to consider the possible presence of motorcycles and the
need to look for motorcyclists, situations where motorcycles may
be obscured, and techniques for detecting motorcyclists, would be
useful in reducing right-of-way violations by other vehicles.
This problem must be addressed on a number of fronts:
Further research into why motorists fail to see motorcyclists
could supply information on how to educate drivers to expect motorcycles
to be present and to detect them.
Mature driver programs that teach older drivers how to
deal with their changing abilities should emphasize that motorcyclists
may require an additional effort to detect.
Rider education and training efforts need to continue
to emphasize this problem and stress that the rider must assume
the responsibility of avoiding a crash situation caused by another
motorist. Initial and recurring rider education and training should
continue to emphasize that motorists will frequently fail to observe
motorcyclists, even though the motorcyclist is in plain view.
Rider education and training must continue to include
training on strategies and techniques for coping with this conspicuity
All driver education and training (mature driver programs,
high schools, remedial programs) should include a component on
Expand avenues to promote motorists awareness of
motorcyclists through billboards, visitor centers, media, motor
vehicle departments, bill statements, banks, grocery stores, gas
pumps, etc., where there are captive audiences.