Why Drivers Lack Motorcycle Awareness
Why Drivers Lack Motorcycle Awareness
At-fault drivers love to blame motorcycle riders for car-bike accidents. “I was about to turn left,” they argue, “and that motorcycle came out of nowhere!”
Bias against motorcyclists is real, and motorists sometimes try to shift blame to innocent riders when they were at fault for a crash. This tactic can complicate your personal injury claims, especially if you don’t have an experienced attorney on your side.
At Crosley Law, we have a long history of helping motorcyclists get the compensation they deserve after a wreck. In this blog, we discuss motorcycle awareness, the science behind distracted driving, and what you can do to fight back.
The Reality of Motorcycle Bias
During a crash, motorcyclists lack the onboard safety systems of a passenger car. You can’t rely on seat belts and airbags to keep you safe. In fact, motorcyclists are six times more likely to die in a wreck than someone in a car or truck. As a biker, you probably understand these risks, but that doesn’t mean you’re immediately to blame for a collision.
How Does Texas Deal With Contributory Negligence?Read More
Motorcycle riders get a bad rap. If you ask non-bikers to describe motorcyclists, you’ll often hear words like “reckless” and “thrill-seeking.” However, these stereotypes are unfair and unsupported by reality. Many motorcycle crashes occur at intersections, and car drivers often cause these wrecks. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 87% of failure-to-yield accidents at intersections are caused by the car, not the motorcycle.
However, motorcyclists’ unfounded reputation as rulebreakers and speed demons can harm their personal injury claims. If the police report places blame on an innocent victim, the insurance company will try to reduce their compensation under Texas’ comparative fault rules. Sometimes, they’ll reject the biker’s claim completely.
The Science Behind “Looked but Failed to See” Crashes
If many car-motorcycle crashes are due to the vehicle driver’s unsafe lane change, failure to yield, or speed, why do so many of these drivers claim they didn’t see the bike until it was too late? Scientists and highway safety experts refer to these crashes as “looked but failed to see” collisions. While some of these claims are simply victim-blaming, it’s sometimes due to psychological phenomena like change blindness and attentional bias.
What Is Change Blindness?
There’s a famous video where a group of people pass basketballs back and forth. Viewers are asked to count the number of times that one team passes the ball. In the middle of the game, a person in a gorilla suit wanders across the screen. About half of viewers don’t even notice the gorilla. This is an example of change blindness or selective attention.
Researchers describe change blindness as a failure to notice large changes in our virtual environment, and it’s remarkably common. The human brain is incredibly powerful, but it has limited resources. When you try to “multitask,” you’re really switching your focus quickly from one task to another; our brains cannot process all that information simultaneously. Drivers, especially distracted ones, often “miss” obvious hazards, motorcyclists, and other vulnerable road users because their minds are focused elsewhere.
What Is Attentional Bias?
Have you ever experienced “tunnel vision,” where you become hyper-focused on one thing and ignore everything else? This is a dramatic example of attentional bias. In addition to change blindness, our brains tend to focus on what we’re most interested in or consider the most dangerous.
Many drivers are on the lookout for cars, trucks, and other “typical” risk factors. However, they’re less conscious of road users who have a smaller profile and are somewhat less common, including motorcyclists, bicycle riders, and pedestrians. Notably, dual drivers, like people who ride motorcycles and drive a car, are less likely to cause a “looked but failed to see” crash — they’re expecting to see motorcycles on the road, so they’re less likely to miss them.
Distracted Driving Contributes to Many Car-Motorcycle Crashes
The top causes of motorcycle crashes often include speeding, failure to yield, unsafe lane changes, and drunk driving. However, we cannot ignore the impact of distracted driving. In 2019, more than 17% of all Texas crashes involved a distracted driver, and many experts believe distracted driving is underreported.
Motorcyclist Receives Settlement in Distracted Teen Driver CrashRead More
Inattention, whether due to texting or “multitasking,” is often at play in a car-motorcycle wreck. However, most drivers will deny all wrongdoing, even if the facts are against them. To fight back, you’ll need access to their phone records and electronic data before the evidence is destroyed or lost.
At Crosley Law, we represented two motorcyclists who suffered catastrophic injuries after a young driver violently rear-ended their bikes. Our motorcycle injury attorneys believed the at-fault driver had been texting and failed to identify a stoppage in traffic. Because we acted quickly and decisively to preserve the negligent driver’s phone records, our team was able to resolve the cases and provide peace of mind to our clients and their families.
How Bikers Can Protect Themselves on Texas’ Roads
At Crosley Law, we take motorcycle safety seriously. Every time you get on your bike, you should take every precaution: follow the rules of the road, avoid lingering in blind spots, and use your turn signals. However, even the most responsible motorcycle rider can’t prevent every crash. When a serious injury happens because of someone else’s negligence, you’ll need to file an injury claim and demand fair compensation for your injuries.
Here are three simple ways you can protect yourself and your legal rights.
1. Take to Your Loved Ones About Motorcycle Awareness
As a responsible motorcyclist, you can help fight bias against motorcyclists and build up awareness by educating your friends and family about motorcycle awareness. If drivers become more aware of motorcyclists and know how to share the road, we can decrease the number of motorcycle injuries and fatalities. If you need help starting these conversations, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website has some excellent resources.
2. Use a Motorcycle Helmet and Protective Gear
A motorcycle helmet, vest, and other protections provide a level of protection when you’re on the road. These items can reduce head and back trauma, road rash, and other common injuries. However, helmets and other gear don’t provide complete protection, especially when a distracted driver causes a violent wreck.
3. Document the Circumstances Surrounding Your Crash
During your personal injury claim, you’ll need evidence that substantiates your claims. While your lawyer will need to collect some of these records, like the negligent driver’s electronic data, you can also play a role. If possible, try to take the following steps:
- Photograph the crash scene, including all vehicles, the skid marks, and the final position of your motorcycle
- Write down the names and contact information of any witnesses who stop at the crash scene
- Cooperate fully with the police investigation and notify the officers if you’re concerned that the other driver was distracted or intoxicated at the time of the crash
- If you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort, seek immediate medical care
- Contact an experienced motorcycle injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Crosley Law: Fighting for San Antonio’s Motorcycle Accident Victims
Request Your Free Consultation
At Crosley Law, we’re deeply committed to helping injured victims in San Antonio and Texas. We proudly represent our clients during some of their most difficult moments, and we have a remarkable track record of success.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, call Crosley Law today at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or fill out our brief contact form. We’ll set up your free consultation so you can get free expert legal advice about your situation at no cost to you.
Beanland, R., Lenné, M., & Underwood, G. (2015, January). Can drivers’ expectations and behaviour around motorcycles be influenced by exposure? Increasing Motorcycle Conspicuity: Design and Assessment of Interventions to Enhance Rider Safety. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281927943_Can_drivers%27_expectations_and_behaviour_around_motorcycles_be_influenced_by_exposure
Talk, text, crash. (n.d.) Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.txdot.gov/driver/share-road/distracted.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
Related ArticlesView All Blog Articles
Why Drivers Lack Motorcycle AwarenessSep 23, 2020
At-fault drivers love to blame motorcycle riders for car-bike accidents. “I was about to turn left,” they argue, “and that motorcycle came out of nowhere!” Bias against motorcyclists is real, and motorists sometimes try to shift blame to innocent riders when they were at fault for a crash. This tactic can complicate your personal injury […]
Why Does Bexar County Have So Many Fatal Bicycle Crashes?Aug 26, 2020
Our community loves bicycles. However, our cycling habits come with a dark side: Bexar County has more fatal bicycle accidents than almost anywhere else in Texas. In this article, our San Antonio bicycle accident attorneys discuss the unique factors that make our roads so dangerous for bicyclists and other vulnerable road users. San Antonio Has […]
San Antonio’s I-35: One of the Deadliest Highways in AmericaMay 07, 2020
In 2019, ValuePenguin studied the data from nearly 3,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred during Thanksgiving and Christmas from 2015–2018 to determine America’s deadliest roadways during the holidays. The results proved what we here in south Texas suspected all along: San Antonio’s I-35 is one of the top five highways in America for deadly […]
Texas Bicyclist Fatalities Up 26%: Protect Yourself With These 5 TipsNov 07, 2019
Results published in the annual Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot) crash statistics show an alarming trend for bicycle safety, as 26% more bicyclists died in crashes in 2018 than the year before. With 72 bicyclist fatalities in total, Texas’ bicyclist fatality rate has reached an unprecedented high. And until the safety and government organization can […]
4 Essential Facts About Texas Motorcycle LawsAug 13, 2019
At Crosley Law, we understand why bikers cherish the freedom that their motorcycles offer them. Compared to many states, Texas has relatively limited motorcycle safety laws. Sometimes, gaps in our laws lead to heart-breaking losses during a motorcycle crash. In this article, we’ll analyze Texas’s current motorcycle laws and outline ways that you can keep […]
Bicycle Traffic Laws: Who has the Right of Way?Apr 02, 2019
The Crosley Law team is passionate about cycling, and we love that our city is embracing bicycling as a sport and means of transportation. However, as San Antonio becomes increasingly bicycle-friendly, you’ve probably become a little confused about which traffic laws apply to San Antonio bicyclists. In 2017 alone, there were 2,687 reported car-bicycle crashes […]
Texas Leads the U.S. in Fatal Motorcycle Accidents: Protect YourselfOct 10, 2018
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes our love for motorcycles. In 2017 alone, state government statistics showed more than 386,938 bikes registered in Texas — the sixth-highest total in the country. But Texas also leads the way in a much less desirable metric: our state generally ranks either first or second in the […]
5 Things Every Rider Should Know About Motorcycle CrashesAug 14, 2018
A motorcycle crash can change your life forever. At Crosley Law, we are painfully aware of the risks that motorcycle riders face when they hit the road. And the number of riders is growing. In fact, the number of registered motorcycles in Texas doubled between 2000 and 2014, and Bexar County has one of the […]
How Can We Improve Bicycle Safety in San Antonio?Apr 03, 2018
San Antonio residents and visitors love to ride parts of our city by bicycle. Unfortunately, many bike riders experience preventable injuries in car-bicycle crashes. Below, the bicycle lawyers at Crosley Law Firm explain how San Antonio is improving bike safety—and what still needs to be done.
Do you or a family member
need legal advice?
Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death. If you’ve been injured, fill out the form for a free consultation, or call 210-LAW-3000.