Allstate Survey: Drivers, Riders Think Each Other Unsafe

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Car drivers wish they didn't have to share the road with motorcycle riders, and most bikers want car drivers to be more careful on the road, according to a new poll from Connecticut.

If the state's car drivers had their druthers, about one in four would have bikers banned from highways and parkways. And nearly half said bikers should not be allowed on roadways at all in inclement weather, according to the online survey of licensed Connecticut drivers, conducted by Directive Analytics for insurer Allstate.

Why the animosity? Because Connecticut car drivers consider motorcycles unsafe. Eighty percent of respondents thought motorcycles are more dangerous or much more dangerous than other vehicles. One in five, in fact, said they have come close to hitting a biker. Illustrating just how anti-motorcycle they are, 75 percent of drivers said they would not let their child ride one.

On the other side bikers overwhelmingly (80 percent) thought they were safer on the road than car drivers, stating that car drivers are careless and don't pay attention to what's going on around them. Bikers also found car drivers to be aggressive, trying to cut riders off, as well as impatient, tending to tailgate cyclists.

"Whether we prefer four wheels or two, we all have preconceived notions, and perhaps even strong opinions, about other drivers — but these opinions should never get the better of us while we are in our vehicles," said Andrea Short, Allstate field product manager. "Particularly now as the warmer weather approaches and heavy traffic re-emerges, all drivers should be careful and cognizant of fellow drivers at all times so we may share the roadways safely this spring season."

Regardless of opinions, fatal accident statistics are a grim reminder that all drivers must remain vigilant about safety. According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 117 people died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 2006 — one every 12 minutes. Specifically, motorcycle rider fatalities have increased by 89 percent from 1997 to 2004 and fatalities continue to increase each year.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Bikers seem to take a 'do as I say, not as I do' position on riding. One in three of those polled who wouldn't want their child to ride a motorcycle are actually motorcycle riders themselves!

Furthermore, half of bikers actually think motorcycles are dangerous. Although most bikers consider themselves safer than car drivers, the survey found that about one in three never received training on how to ride a motorcycle safely.

"To ensure everyone keeps an eye on safety, we recommend that all drivers know the basics of sharing the road with motorcycles," said Short.

Additional Allstate Motorcycle Survey Findings
  • Of those who ride motorcycles in Connecticut, 30 percent are women. This is compared to the national average of only 9 percent (American Motorcyclist Association).
  • The survey revealed women were much more likely than men to become nervous near a biker.
  • Two out of three drivers say they have the most difficulty seeing bikers in heavy traffic, as well as on highways; one in three drivers said it's most difficult to see bikers at dusk.
  • More than one in five respondents thought bikers cause more accidents than other vehicles. The majority of these people said bikers' recklessness was the main reason they caused more accidents.
  • Although motorcycle insurance is mandatory in Connecticut, nearly 13 percent of bikers said they do NOT have a motorcycle insurance policy. The overwhelming reason bikers said they don't have insurance was that they do not ride the bike often enough.

  • Driving Tips from Allstate and the NHTSA
    For bikers:
  • Protect yourself — Choose gear that will increase your visibility in addition to providing protection in the event of a crash. Always wear a helmet that fits right. Pick one that has the DOT label, which shows that it meets federal safety standards.
  • Keep control — Know your bike's limits. Stick to the speed limit. Use your signals. Brake smart by using both brakes at the same time, slow and steady.
  • Know the road — Watch for hazardous road conditions such as potholes, wet leaves, railroad tracks and other road obstructions.
  • Make sure other drivers can see you — Never share a lane with a car. Don't ride in blind spots or tailgate, and always use your headlights.
  • Be respectful of other drivers — Don't weave through traffic or drive on the shoulder.
  • For car drivers:
  • Motorcycles are small and may be difficult to see — Remember that bikers are often hidden in a vehicle's blind spot or missed in a quick look due to their smaller size. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
  • Allow the biker a full lane width — Although it may seem as though there is enough room in the traffic lane for an automobile and a motorcycle, remember the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
  • Allow more following distance — Leaving more space can give bikers time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions bikers can stop more quickly than cars.
  • Always use your signals — This allows the biker to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position. Don't be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle, motorcycle signals usually are not self-cancelling and bikers sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
  • Be aware of road conditions — Minor annoyances to you may pose major hazards to bikers. Bikers may change speed or adjust their position suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.