For several decades, it seems like the average size of enclosed passenger vehicles in the United States has drastically increased. Extended cab trucks, SUVs and spacious crossovers dominate the lineups for many of the major automakers, both domestic and foreign. Larger vehicles aren’t inherently negative, but they can give the people inside them an unearned sense of security.
The person driving that massive SUV probably doesn’t worry about how badly they might get hurt in a crash with another vehicle, especially a smaller vehicle like a motorcycle. That sense of safety can lead to drivers failing to adequately monitor their surroundings, substantially increasing the risk to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle drivers.
While motorcycle enthusiasts may follow all the rules of the road and try to make themselves highly visible, the people in larger, enclosed vehicles may still not notice them on the road. All too often, when someone in a passenger vehicle causes a crash with a motorcycle, that individual wants to claim that they didn’t see the motorcycle there.
Most vehicles don’t have large blind spots
It is true that the larger a vehicle is, the harder it can be for the driver to see around the vehicle fully. Drivers should look out their windows and check their mirrors before any major maneuvers to determine if there are other vehicles or pedestrians nearby. With the exception of commercial trucks that require special licensing, however, basic attempts at traffic monitoring will be enough to alert a driver to the presence of another vehicle nearby, including motorcycles.
While there are blind spots behind and to the side of an enclosed passenger vehicle, mirrors and manual checking more than compensate for those small spaces a driver cannot see. You can also be conscious of your position and try to avoid driving in places with reduced visibility. Unfortunately, when a driver doesn’t make an effort to check their limited blind spots, they can cause an otherwise preventable crash that could have catastrophic consequences for the other person.
Failing to monitor the road does not reduce someone’s liability
When a driver who has hit a motorcycle exits their vehicle and announces to witnesses or law enforcement responders that they didn’t see the bike there, their actions are tantamount to a confession. Drivers have an obligation to be safe on the road and to monitor their surroundings properly.
Failing to look and not thinking about the potential presence of motorcycles on the road is not an excuse that shields a driver from legal and financial liability or responsibility after a motorcycle crash. Especially here in California, where the weather permits motorcycle riding year-round without special gear, drivers should pay close attention to two-wheeled vehicles nearby on the road.