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Sharing the Road with Motorcycles in New Hampshire

rear view of a man holding a helmet by his side with a motorcycle parked in the background

It’s motorcycle season in New Hampshire, and unfortunately, that means the return of a tragic refrain: when motorists turn left in front of motorcycles, the biker too often pays the price.

This is, unfortunately, one of the most common ways motorcycle accidents happen: a motorist in an enclosed vehicle makes a left turn in front of or into an oncoming motorcycle, and the motorcyclist is seriously harmed. Of course, there are other ways drivers cause serious motorcycle crashes. Here’s what you should know to keep riders safe this summer.

Motorists need to respect motorcyclists’ right of way

Under New Hampshire law, a motorcycle is a vehicle and has just as much a right to be on the road as a car or truck. Just because a motorcycle physically takes up less space on the road doesn’t mean it should be treated differently for purposes of the right of way.

At an intersection with a traffic signal, if there is a green light but no green left turn arrow, then a motorist making a left turn needs to yield to oncoming vehicles. Most drivers understand this when the oncoming vehicle is another car, but they forget when the oncoming vehicle is a motorcycle.

Often, the explanation is that they didn’t see the motorcycle, but that is hardly an excuse. Motorists have a legal responsibility to be attentive to the road when making a maneuver, especially at intersections. Motorists may cause crashes of this sort when they are driving aggressively, fatigued, or under the influence. Distracted driving, too, is a common cause: too many drivers pull out their phones when stopped at a red light, then proceed through the intersection when the light turns green, oblivious to their lingering mental distraction.

Motorcycle riders have legal rights

Tragically, even when motorcyclists do everything they’re supposed to do and take appropriate safety precautions (e.g., wearing a helmet and other safety gear), motorcycle accidents often turn deadly. There is only so much bikers can do in the face of a crash with a much larger and more dangerous vehicle.

That’s why it’s critical that motorists who cause motorcycle accidents are held accountable. An experienced attorney can investigate a motorcycle crash, determine the cause, and fight for the full amount of compensation available under New Hampshire law. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash anywhere in New Hampshire, we would be glad to explain your legal options in a free consultation.

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