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Motorcyclists: Make sure they see you

It's such a common refrain after a motorcycle accident. The driver gets out of the car, holding their head in their hands, and says: "I never saw them."

Even when it seems like they must not be telling the truth -- the motorcycle was riding in the proper lane, at the speed limit, on a bright sunny day -- they often are. Drivers just overlook motorcycles constantly.

Why does it happen? There are a lot of reasons. Motorcycles are small. They're fast. Drivers get used to looking for other cars, but they spend far less time dealing with motorcycles.

But, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter why the driver doesn't see the bike. What matters is that it leads to an accident. As a motorcyclist, you face far greater dangers than the person in the car, so you want to do everything in your power to prevent this. Here are a few things to try:

  • Add high-visibility clothes to your wardrobe. Buy lime green, orange and other bright colors. You don't necessarily have to buy a new motorcycle jacket. Just buy a high-visibility vest like a road worker wears and put it on over your jacket when you ride. Stash it on your bike when you arrive at your destination.
  • Consider the color of the actual bike. The majority of motorcycles are black, to the point that it's what people expect. That's the same color as the pavement. You'll blend in, especially at night. Even though it's popular, black is the most dangerous color. Consider other options.
  • Touch your brakes before you slow down. Flash your brake lights at the car behind you. Make sure they know you're there before you really start braking. This helps avoid a rear-end accident.
  • Put reflective tape on your bike. It can massively increase your visibility at night or at dusk. If you still want a black motorcycle, a few strips of reflective tape can preserve the look you want while making it far safer.

Above all else, assume that drivers don't see you. All the bright clothes and reflective tape in the world will not guarantee that drivers spot you and give you the right of way. They're still going to cut you off, turn left in front of you and merge into you on the highway. If you assume they do not see you, then you can drive defensively to protect yourself.

Even that is not enough to avoid all accidents. Again, the risk to you is far greater on your bike. If you have high medical bills, lost wages, constant pain and other such complications, make sure you understand all of the legal steps you can take to seek out financial compensation.

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