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You Can’t See Motorcycles - Jones Law Group

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You Can’t See Motorcycles

By: Heath C. Murphy +Personal Injury

The title of this article may be a bit misleading and reminiscent of an exchange between Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson in White Men Can’t Jump, but people, especially non-motorcycle riding people, are not trained to see motorcycles. They are trained to see cars and trucks. If you put your average rider behind the wheel, he/she will notice every motorcycle on the road. They will probably notice most of the motorcycles in parking lots and driveways that they pass. They will notice the paint job, if the pipes are bluing and sound of the engine from 150 feet. Your average car driver will not even notice the motorcycle’s existence. I was on Facebook last week and some bikers that I know were discussing yet another fatal motorcycle accident in the St. Petersburg area in which the driver of a car pulled in front of a motorcyclist. The driver, of course said that they did not see the motorcycle. One of the people in that Facebook conversation posted a video which I thought was worth writing an article about. Thanks to Hootmon Harry for bringing this video to my attention.


That video makes an incredibly powerful statement regarding the state of the average person’s capability to see beyond what their brain is expecting to see. In a sense, it seems that people are usually operating “autopilot.” Obviously, the average non-rider is expecting to see cars, which leaves motorcyclists in the unenviable position of playing the part of the moon walking bear.

Drivers of Cars and Trucks Must Be More Alert

Based solely on my personal experience, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa seem to have more motorcycle riders per capita than any place I have ever been. Florida has a wonderful climate for year round riding. St. Pete averages 350+ days of sun per year and it is usually warm. However, the St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa area is also home to some of the more automobile congested roadways in the country. Consequently, it is a dangerous area for bikers.

Why can’t drivers see motorcycles? The answer is rather simple, they can see motorcycles. The problem is that they do not notice motorcycles, either because they are distracted or because they have not trained themselves to notice motorcycles. The solution lies in training and awareness. Drivers must remember to look for motorcycles and avoid driving distracted. Whether it is a cell phone or cheeseburger driving distracted is an invitation to cause a motorcycle accident.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

The most common cause of motorcycle accidents involving cars occurs when the car simply pulls into the path of the oncoming motorcycle. When checking for traffic prior to crossing or entering a roadway, it is important to scan the entire road. Cars and trucks are easy to spot because they are large and generally drive down the center of the lane. Motorcyclists, however, prefer to ride to the right or left of center. They ride left or right of center because oil and other slick fluids tend to accumulate in the center of each lane. This condition can make it more likely for a motorcyclist to lose control of their bike. Therefore, it is up to drivers to be aware of this habit and to account for these areas prior to entering the roadway.

Another common cause of motorcycle accidents occurs when the driver of a car simply enters the lane occupied by the rider without looking. Motorcycles obviously have a much smaller profile than their 4+ wheeled counterparts on the road. For this reason, drivers must be alert and vigilant when taking care to ensure that a motorcycle is not in their blind spot when changing lanes. Simply using the car’s mirrors is not sufficient; every lane change must be accompanied by a “blind spot check.” This requires the driver to look over their shoulder to ensure that no vehicles are in the blind spots.

Motorcycle Accident Injuries

I am not sure whether the statistics will back me up, but it seems we have had a very bad beginning to 2015 for motorcycle accidents. Almost every week I read a news stories about the driver of a truck or car simply pulling out into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.[2] Unfortunately, the results of such accidents are usually severe and life altering. The injuries that are typically seen include:

1. Death;
2. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries;
3. Fractured or broken bones;
4. Spinal cord damage;
5. Neck and back injuries;
6. Road rash; and
7. Lacerations and contusions.

Distracted Driving

Many accidents involving a car and a motorcycle are caused by distracted driving. The most common driver distraction is their cell phone. Studies indicate that receiving or sending a text takes, on average, 4.6 seconds. During this time your car can travel the length of a football field or more. Prudent drivers will usually allow 2-3 car lengths between their vehicle and a motorcycle which they are following. At most that spacing represents a distance of 30 feet or so which means that a driver distracted by a text can easily run over a motorcyclist who had the unfortunate luck of stopping or slowing down while the driver was distracted by a text message.

Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Lawyer at Jones Law Group

Have you or a loved one been injured in a motorcycle accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg motorcycle accident attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence of another, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707



[1] http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2015/3/22/motorcyclist_killed_.html

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio