When Courtesy Causes an Accident

Most everyone has been courteous and waved on a car in traffic.  Unfortunately, sometimes courtesy can cause an accident and you can be found at fault for waving on a car.

For instance, the driver of a car in the right lane of a street may waive on a car coming out of a parking lot or cross street without thinking about traffic coming up from behind in the left lane.  The car coming out of the cross street may proceed without seeing another car coming from behind the courteous driver in the left lane but not seeing a motorcycle is even more of a possibility.

A similar incident (not in New York) was responsible for the death of a motorcycle sheriff’s deputy who was escorting a float in a parade. The motorcycle deputy was moving up along the left side of the float to block the intersection.  Just then, the driver of a truck pulling the float waved on a car, signaling that she could proceed to make a left turn in front of him.  The car drove around the float and ran head-on into the motorcycle deputy, killing him.

Although it was alleged that the motorcycle deputy was at fault, the jury found that the courteous truck driver pulling the float was 95% at fault and the driver of the car was 5% at fault for causing the accident.

The sheriff’s deputy was an experienced motorcyclist being an 11 year veteran of the motorcycle unit.  This type of accident is extremely difficult to avoid because you may not be able to see that a courteous driver is motioning to another car.

If you see the car to your right slowdown or stop when another car is on the right, it would be appropriate to be cautious.  A driver who is being waved on will likely have his or her vision partially blocked by the courteous car.  Everyone knows that car drivers often don’t see motorcycles.  This is one of the times when you probably will not be seen.

Next time you’re feeling courteous, think twice about whether traffic coming from behind you could be at risk because of your action.  It could be a fellow motorcyclist.

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