‘I Didn’t See Them!’ Is Not an Excuse for a Motorcycle Crash

Western New York Personal Injury Law Blog

‘I Didn’t See Them!’ Is Not an Excuse for a Motorcycle Crash

One of the most frequent statements drivers make after crashing into a motorcycle is that they never even saw the bike. People say, “The guy came out of nowhere!” or “I didn’t see them weaving through lanes!”

However, these are not excuses for hitting a motorcycle, and drivers can be liable for damages they cause when they crash into a rider.

Why can’t drivers see motorcyclists?

There are some common reasons why drivers may say they didn’t see a motorcycle before hitting it. 

  • Motorcycles are small. Because of their smaller size, motorcycles are more easily concealed by other vehicles, buildings or other objects. They can be harder to see when they are in a driver’s blind spots. Further, drivers can misjudge the speed of motorcycles because of their size.
  • They are more nimble. Motorcycles can fit in much smaller spaces than cars. And while it is not legal to lane-split in New York, motorcyclists might pull up next to a vehicle or pull in front of a driver. If a driver is not aware of the biker, they can be surprised when a motorcycle slips in traffic around them.
  • Drivers can experience inattentional blindnessThis phenomenon refers to seeing something without processing it. For instance, even if a driver is looking right at motorcyclists, they may not register it consciously, making it more likely that they could crash into the rider.
  • Drivers may not be driving safely. Too often, crashes come down to human error. A driver may be drunk, distracted by their cellphone or falling asleep behind the wheel. These conditions can make a person a serious threat to other road users, particularly those that are already more difficult to see and anticipate. 

Some of these reasons are unavoidable; others are entirely within drivers’ control. However, none of them are acceptable reasons for striking a motorcyclist.

Improving your vision, visibility

Motorcycles can indeed be more difficult to see than cars. But that does not mean they have any less right to share the roads with others.

To avoid a crash, drivers must pay attention, take the time to look for motorcycles and give them the time and space necessary to prevent a collision. Riders can protect themselves by driving defensively and making themselves as visible as possible.

Should a crash still occur, legal action against a negligent driver can be appropriate.


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