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How can I avoid accidents when I'm riding my motorcycle?

If you ride a motorcycle, you already know that you have a higher risk of injuries than drivers of vehicles. You have unique driving situations that others do not, especially when curves and road conditions are in play, but the majority of accidents involve other vehicles. The simple truth is that motorcyclists need to be in a mindset of driving defensively to avoid hazards created by other motorists. Here are some strategies you can use to stay safe.

What may be minor for a car accident can be deadly for a motorcycle accident. According to RideApart motorcycle enthusiasts, "fender-benders" are the most common car accident, but motorcyclists cannot afford to look at them in the same manner.

When you are stopped for a light or stop sign, be aware of cars coming up behind you. Are they slowing down to stop? If their speed does not slow, they may not see you or the stop sign and run right into you. If you think this may be the case, pull your cycle far to the side or in front of a neighboring car. If you are the only one at a stop, flash the brakes, sound the horn and move sideways as much as possible. Assess the intersection in advance, and you may see a safe place to take shelter.

Drivers may change lanes into your path either cutting you off or sideswiping you, especially if you are in their blind spot. Avoid this position at all times. Warning signs include a drifting to one side of the lane or a driver moving his head around to check for traffic (but still missing you). Also look for turn signals and whether the car is suddenly speeding up or slowing down in preparation for a lane change.

The largest number of motorcycle/car crashes are a result of motorists on your right hooking a left turn in front of you. The driver may be on a cellphone or otherwise distracted and not realize you are on the left, or they may simply misjudge your speed.

Some red flags to be aware of include whether the car is stationary when it should be moving ahead. This may indicate the driver is waiting for a gap in traffic to make a turn. Look ahead to where the car sits. Is there a driveway, residential or commercial, there? Check the position of the vehicle's tires and note whether they are turned to the left; this is the best indication of where the driver plans to go.

Another thing to keep in mind is where other traffic is around you. If you need to stop suddenly or change lanes to avoid a crash, can you do so without causing an accident yourself? Motorists are not typically looking for motorcycles when checking traffic. They are looking for other cars. It is up to you to drive defensively and stay safe. 

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