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Drivers in Illinois Should Share the Road with Motorcyclists

On behalf of Mark Maritote at Maritote Law

At some point or another, we have probably all seen the bumper sticker that reads, “Start Seeing Motorcycles.” Motorcyclists share the road with other motor vehicles, and yet many drivers treat motorcycles like any other vehicle despite their vulnerability. Drivers should recognize that motorcyclists are entitled to the same rights on the road in Illinois as other motorists. To encourage safety and to reduce motorcycle and car accidents, May is Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois.

Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois is meant to remind drivers to be on the lookout for motorcyclists as the weather warms and to share the road with motorcycle riders. The campaign also reminds motorcyclists to obey traffic laws, wear protective gear and helmets, and be visible.

According to Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hanning, there was a two-year low in the number of traffic fatalities in Illinois during 2009 and 2010. He believes the increased cooperation between motorcyclists and other drivers has helped reduce the number of traffic fatalities in the state.

To continue the trend of fewer auto accidents and improved motorcycle safety in Illinois, drivers should be aware of some guidelines to help keep motorcycle riders safe. To begin with, motorcyclists have the same rights to the road as other drivers in Illinois.

In addition, car drivers should signal lane changes to help motorcyclists anticipate their movements. Since motorcycles are smaller vehicles, a motorcyclist may be hidden in a driver’s blind spot. Drivers should therefore check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or leaving an intersection.

Motorists should also be aware that what they view as minor changes in road conditions can be major changes for motorcycle riders. Motorcyclists may suddenly move or change speed to avoid potholes, wet spots, pavement seams, gravel, grooved pavement and railroad crossings.

Drivers should also provide additional distance between themselves and a motorcyclist. When following a motorcycle rider, drivers should give three or four seconds of space. The additional space will allow motorcyclists to more safely stop or maneuver.

Finally, all motorists should be aware of their surroundings — one of the most common comments made after a motorcycle accident is, “I did not see the bike.”

If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident in Illinois, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today to discuss your legal options.