Motorists, motorcycle riders, cyclists, and pedestrians converge on roadways across the globe every day. While many travelers respect their fellow road warriors, the potential for highway accidents is great. Taking measures to share the road safely can greatly reduce all travelers’ risk of being involved in a traffic accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration says that, despite historical declines in automobile fatalities, motorcycle deaths have increased nearly every year for the past 14 years. The lone exception was 2009. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 900 cyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency room visits due to bicycle-related injuries in the United States in 2013.
While not all of these accidents are directly related to unsafe conditions or collisions with motorists, individuals can take various precautionary measures to make roadways safer for all travelers.
Never ride impaired or distracted
This rule applies to everyone on the road, no matter the mode of travel. Alcohol, drugs and distractions like mobile phones can impair judgement and reduce reaction times.
Do not wear headphones
Drivers and cyclists should never wear headphones, which can make it hard to hear approaching travelers and any horns, sirens or indicators of unsafe conditions.
Check the curb lane
Drivers should always check their mirrors and pay special attention to the right of their vehicles so they can determine if any cyclists are approaching. And always be on the lookout for pedestrians, particularly at crosswalks.
Bikers and cyclists must anticipate hazards
Motorcycles and bicycles can be more difficult to see, especially when positioned in blind spots of vehicles. Motorcycle riders and cyclists should position themselves in traffic accordingly and try to anticipate what drivers might do if motorcycles and bicycles are in their blind spots.
Everyone on the road should make themselves as visible as possible to others. Pedestrians and cyclists can wear bright colours and use reflective tape. Cars should keep their daytime running lights on and use headlights in inclement weather. Rain, fog and snow can impair visual conditions for all travelers, so exercise extreme caution when traveling in adverse conditions.
Use safety equipment
Bicycle helmets, motorcycle helmets and other protective gear can save lives. Everyone should wear a properly fitted helmet. Motorists and their passengers should always wear their safety belts.
Obey the rules of the road
Whether on foot, on a bicycle, on a motorcycle, or in a car, the rules of the road remain the same. Heed traffic signals, yield to others when applicable and maintain proper speeds. Also, remember to use turn signals when turning and/or changing lanes.
Be aware of road conditions
The NHTSA says that road conditions that are minor annoyances to motorists can pose major hazards to motorcycle riders and cyclists. Riders may change speed or adjust position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions, such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement. Drivers should anticipate such adjustments.
Working in concert, everyone can improve safety for those sharing the road.