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Motorcyclists are in danger from distracted drivers

Studies continue to show the dangers of texting and driving. As accidents, injuries and fatalities climb on California highways and across the country, none may feel the pain more sharply than those who ride motorcycles. You may not need research and statistics to prove to you how dangerous it is to be on a bike in the midst of people who are texting, talking on their phones or programming their navigational systems.

It is common for drivers of larger vehicles to miss seeing you when you are riding your motorcycle. You have a smaller profile and may not be visible in shadows or beside larger vehicles. However, when motorists are not on the lookout for bikers because they are texting, your life and the lives of other bikers are in danger.

Recognizing a distracted driver

All too often, a motorcyclist may not realize that another driver is not paying attention until it is too late to take evasive maneuvers. There are some signs that a driver is paying more attention to a cell phone or other device than to the road, for example:

  • Cars that slow down for no reason because their drivers suddenly get a text or call
  • Drivers who don't use turn signals because a device occupies their hands
  • Cars that do not move through an intersection after the light turns green
  • Drivers whose heads remain at an odd, downward angle as they drive

You can do your best to attract the attention of other drivers by wearing bright clothing, flashing your lights, weaving within your lane and making exaggerated body motions when slowing down or turning.

Predicting disaster

Defensive skills are essential to a biker, but in some situations, avoiding distracted drivers altogether may be the safest plan. For example, if you know rush-hour commuters will be making last-minute efforts to get to an exit, you may be safer not riding in the far right lane.

You may also be able to predict that a car with excessive body damage may have a careless driver. If a car is driving too close behind you, switching lanes or allowing the driver to pass may be wiser than holding your ground, which may stir up aggressive tendencies. Some biking advocates recommend loud exhausts or horns as a last resort when a distracted driver comes your way. The highest priority is to protect yourself from injury caused by someone else's negligent behavior.

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