Spring is here, so you’ll probably see more motorcycles. And the key word here is “see”. People driving cars and trucks often fail to notice the motorcyclists around them, in part because they are not used to looking for them.
It’s obvious but bears repeating: Motorcyclists are far more vulnerable than car and truck drivers and passengers. Not only are there many more cars and trucks on the road, but there is no such thing as a “fender bender” for a motorcyclist. Still, even a low-speed collision can seriously injure a rider, not to mention the entire bike, so it’s important to always give motorcycles extra clearance and extra looks.
Below are six tips to help you safely share the road with motorcyclists.
Objects in the mirror. The thing in your mirror may be closer than it looks ̵1; especially if it’s a motorcycle. Because of its size, it can be more difficult to determine how compact a bike is and how fast it moves. Therefore, when turning into traffic, always estimate that a motorcycle is closer than it appears to avoid forcing a driver to brake quickly – or worse.
Look at those left turns. One of the most common motorcycle accidents is a car making a left turn directly in front of a bicycle at an intersection. So give yourself an extra moment to look specifically for motorcycles approaching you as you turn into traffic.
Double check your blind spot. Carefully checking your blind spot before changing lanes is always a good idea. When it comes to motorcycles, it’s crucial. A bicycle can easily be obscured in the blind spot, hidden behind your car’s roof pillar or blending in with vehicles in other lanes, so check carefully before changing lanes. Also, always use your turn signals.
Do not use the tailgate. This is another general rule for all riders, but it’s important when following a motorcycle. Be aware that many drivers reduce speed by downshifting or easing off the gas, so you won’t see the brake lights even if they slow down. Following at least three seconds behind the bike should give you enough time and space to slow down or stop if necessary safely.
Stay in your file. Motorcycles do not take up an entire street like cars or trucks. But that doesn’t mean you can cozy up and share a bike with a road. Just because the driver might hug one side of the track doesn’t mean you can move into that space. Riders are likely doing this to avoid debris, oil on the road or a pothole, so some slight swerving within the lane is to be expected. Do not enter the street with a bicycle.
Consider motorcycles. Constantly looking for bikes while driving will make the above tips a matter of course and make you a better rider. To personalize it, think of your friends and family riding bikes and then drive as if they’re on the road with you. Motorcyclists – and everyone else – will thank you.