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How do you stay safe in city traffic on a motorcycle?

It's not easy being a motorcyclist these days. Poor helmet laws, demographic changes that put more inexperienced owners (aged 20-29) and older owners (aged 50-59) who are more easily injured on the road, impaired driving and increased speed limits are all combining to create tragedy on our nation's highways for motorcyclists and their families.

Statistics from the Governors Highway Safety Association indicate that fatalities for bikers jumped 10 percent between 2014 and 2015 -- a near record high.

How can motorcyclists, particularly those facing the traffic woes of a modern city rather than the open road, stay safe?

-- Ride as if you own a magic cloak of invisibility. No matter how visible you have tried to be, no matter what you've done to your gear or your bike to make yourself stand out, assume that at least one driver very near you on the road cannot see you. That keeps you on the defensive mindset that could save your life if someone suddenly moves into your lane without warning.

-- Don't ride adjacent to cars. You don't want to be in a driver's peripheral vision because you don't know how good that vision is or whether or not they know how to use their side mirrors correctly (because a lot of drivers don't). This will help you stay out of blind spots.

-- Keep your eyes seven to 12 seconds ahead of you. That trains your mind to be aware of potential dangers and surprises, like sudden stops. Create and maintain a safe zone that gives you time to react if there's an accident in front of you, someone suddenly stalls out or there's another problem. This also keeps you visible to oncoming traffic -- you won't be hidden behind someone's big SUV and have to worry about someone trying to use the road you're on as a passing lane.

-- Make eye contact when possible with vehicles attempting a left turn -- and watch their wheels in case they still are on "automatic" and go to make a turn anyhow.

If you're injured in an accident with an automobile, consider contacting an attorney for advice about the possibility of a claim to recover for your injuries.

Source: Fix.com, "Survival Tips for Riding in City Traffic," Domingo Chang, accessed April 14, 2017

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