A sport utility driver turned left across a motorcyclist’s lane of travel causing him to crash last Friday afternoon. Joseph Cross, 32, of Brunswick County died at the scene following the collision. The North Carolina Highway Patrol concluded that the SUV broadsided Cross as he was travelling along Kirby Road.

The State Highway Patrol charged driver of the SUV, Dorothy Hewitt, 51, with failing to yield the right of way. At the time of the crash, Hewitt was attempting to turn left into her driveway. She stated that she did not see any oncoming traffic until the motorcycle collided with her vehicle. Unfortunately, this scenario happens all too often.

The most common type of motorcycle accident involves another vehicle causing the collision by violating the right of way of the motorcycle at an interesection, usually by turning left in front of the oncoming motorcycle because the car driver did not see the motorcycle.

From ahead or behind, a motorcycle’s outline is much smaller than a car’s, and if a car driver is not paying attention, the car driver can miss seeing a motorcycle. Most often, car driver’s are not looking for motorcycles, and even if a car driver does see a motorcycle, the driver often perceives the motorcycle to be further away, or travelling slower, than it actually is. Fortunately, there are many things the motorcyclist can do to increase his/her visibility.

Since most motorcycle wrecks occur in broad daylight, motorcyclists can increase their visibility by wearing brightly colored clothing and helmets. Wearing bright colors like orange, red, yellow or green can increase the motorcyclist’s visibility and chances of survival.

The law in North Carolina requires motorcyclists to burn their headlight while riding. The type of light on a motorcycle can be important in terms of visibility. The brighter the light the more visible it is to other drivers. There are a number of after-market manufacturers that sell motorcycle headlights for the sole purpose of increasing the motorcycle’s visibility.

In motorcycle cases, investigating how the accident happened is critical to protecting the motorcyclist’s legal rights. Insurance companies often deny motorcycle claims because dead men tell no lies. If the driver of the car or SUV says that the motorcyclist was flying down the road, then that is often all an insurance company needs in order to completely deny a claim. We have overcome many such obstacles in our representation of motorcyclists.

As someone who rides motor cycles, I suggest that the motorcyclist must assume that every car you approach is going to cut you off, turn in front of you, stop suddenly, or try to run you off the road. If you ride with any other mindset, you are likely to be involved in a crash with a car.

Please look for motorcycles, and please drive and ride safely.