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Chicago drivers: be on the lookout for motorcyclists this summer

Summer got a bit of a late start this year. But ever since the warm weather arrived in mid-June, people throughout the Midwest have been trying to soak up every bit of summer they can.

Here in Chicago, summer is motorcycle season. And while riding is a lot of fun, it can also be dangerous. Because motorcycles tend to be a seasonal fixture on Illinois roads, other motorists are not necessarily used to interacting with riders and respecting their rights.

One of the most common and most preventable motorcycle accident scenarios involves left-turn crashes. Cars making left turns in cross traffic frequently fail to notice oncoming motorcyclists. This often leaves the motorcyclist with no time to stop or slow down, making a devastating collision a near certainty.

It is also important to remember that motorcycles are smaller and offer less bodily protection than cars or trucks. As a result, an accident that is relatively minor by car or truck standards often proves fatal to a motorcyclist.

Left-turn accidents are just one of the many ways that larger vehicles put motorcyclists in danger. In addition to looking carefully before making a turn, car and truck drivers need to allow motorcyclists plenty of room when following behind them in traffic or attempting to pass them. Maintaining a large buffer zone ensures that you and other drivers avoid getting too close and potentially causing a crash.

To be sure, motorcyclists must also do their part by obeying traffic laws, making themselves visible and wearing proper safety gear. But in a crash between a motorcycle and a larger vehicle, the motorcycle will almost always lose. That’s why it’s especially important for the rest of us to slow down, pay attention and do our best to share the road. 

Source: TimesUnion.com, “It's 'left-turn' accident season for motorcyclists,” Matthew Hamilton, June 6, 2013

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