With warmer weather and more sunshine comes the itch to get out on the road on your motorcycle. Taking your bike out for the first ride after a long Colorado winter can feel like an escape or return to true freedom. No matter how enthusiastic you are, you will likely take certain safety precautions before you pull out of your driveway in order to keep yourself as safe as possible on the open road.
Getting a spring tune-up and checking all of your safety gear can be good places to start. Spring may be a good time to buy a new helmet or invest in repairs you put off on your motorcycle. Some drivers may decide to take steps to increase their visibility to others on the road, possibly through brightly-colored gear or the addition of reflectors or lights to their motorcycle to reduce their risk of a crash.
While those efforts can help in some circumstances, motorcycle riders simply can’t control the attention of people in enclosed passenger vehicles.
Some people aren’t thinking about or looking for motorcycles
Attempts to make yourself more visible and more audible are common recommendations among those trying to advocate for motorcycle safety. However, this puts the pressure on motorcycle drivers to adjust their behavior for the negligence and bad practices of others while not really producing any verifiable safety results.
Trying to make yourself more visible can help in some cases, but it is not a foolproof tactic. You can be perfectly visible and idling loudly, only to have a driver merge directly where your bike is as though you didn’t exist. If that happens, your visibility gear or lack thereof will not be responsible. The driver’s behavior and attention will be.
Psychological research shows that people don’t notice what they don’t look for
Perhaps the best way for motorcyclists to increase their chances of safety on the road is to continue to engage in awareness campaigns. Billboards, bumper stickers and roadside signs reminding drivers to always look twice for motorcycles can plant a psychological seed that reminds them to be aware of their surroundings.
If a driver isn’t consciously looking for smaller vehicles like motorcycles on the road, they may not see them even though they are right there. The brain prioritizes what information it responds to in a driving scenario, and since motorcycles don’t seem like as big of a risk as a semi, the brain might filter that information out, leaving the driver essentially unaware of your presence.
If a driver tries to claim that they didn’t see you, that does not exempt them from liability for the injuries they may cause you as a result. Those hurt by other drivers while on a motorcycle can, theoretically, bring a lawsuit against the driver who crashed into them.