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The dreaded and often fatal left turn in front of a motorcycle

Your motorcycle outing took a startling turn all because of a left turn made by an oncoming car. “What was that driver thinking?” you wondered as the approaching vehicle drove into your path.

But, luckily, thanks to an evasive maneuver on your part, your swerve allowed you to avoid a collision that certainly would have led to serious injuries. Other bikers, though, may not be so lucky.

A common driver mistake

Making a left turn in front of a motorcycle is one of the most common driver mistakes that leads to a collision with a bike.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42% of the fatal two-vehicle crashes between a motorcycle and another vehicle in 2020 occurred when the latter vehicle turned left in front of a motorcycle traveling straight, passing or overtaking other vehicles.

Other data from the NHTSA disclosed that in two-vehicle fatal crashes, 76% of the motorcycles were struck from the front.

Drivers claim they did not see the motorcyclist

Why do these crashes occur? If you ask the drivers of the cars, pickups, SUVs and large trucks, they have an assortment of explanations. These drivers more often than not claim that they did not see the motorcyclist, misjudged the speed of the bike and the distance between their two vehicles.

In 2020, the NHTSA reported 5,579 motorcyclists died on U.S. roads. California recorded 539 of those fatalities, the second most in the nation. Only Florida (600) had more motorcyclist deaths that year.

What can a biker do?

What can motorcyclists do to minimize the effect of driver mistakes that include making left turns in front of their bikes, veering into their paths or striking them from the rear? Consider abiding by these steps:

  • Remain visible by wearing bright clothing
  • Anticipate that the other driver may make a mistake
  • Remain alert and vigilant of your surroundings

Following these guidelines just may help you avoid a preventable collision.

Sharp eyes and safe trips

The thousands of motorcyclists in California understand the joys of riding their bikes. But they also must understand the potential road dangers, including those caused by drivers making left turns in front of them. Maintain a sharp eye and have a safe trip.