Spring is here, so you’ll likely see more motorcycles. And the key word here is “see.” People driving cars and trucks often fail to notice the motorcyclists around them, partly because they’re not accustomed to looking for them.
It’s obvious yet bears repeating: Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than car and truck drivers and passengers. Not only are there many more cars and trucks on the road, but there’s no such thing as a “fender bender” for a motorcyclist. Nevertheless, even a low-speed collision can seriously injure a rider, not to mention total the bike, so it’s important always to give motorcycles extra space and an extra look.
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 appears — especially if it’s a motorcycle. Due to its size, it can be harder to determine how compact a bike is and how fast it’s moving. Therefore, when turning into traffic, always estimate a motorcycle to be closer than it appears to avoid forcing a rider to hit the brakes quickly — or worse.
Watch those left turns. One of the most common motorcycle accidents involves a car making a left turn directly in front of a bike at an intersection. So give yourself an extra moment to look specifically for motorcycles approaching you when turning 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 critical. A bike can be easily obscured in the blind spot, hidden behind your car’s roof pillars, or blend in with vehicles in other lanes, so check carefully before changing lanes. Plus, always use your turn signal.
Don’t tailgate. This is another general rule for all drivers, but it’s essential when following a motorcycle. Be aware that many riders decrease speed by downshifting or easing off the throttle, so you won’t see brake lights even though they are slowing down. Following at least three seconds behind the bike should give you enough time and space to slow down or stop when necessary safely.
Stay in your lane. Motorcycles don’t take up an entire street like cars or trucks. But that doesn’t mean you can cozy and share a bike with a road. Just because the rider may be hugging one side of the lane 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 a bit of mild swerving within the lane can be expected. Do not crowd into the street with a bike.
Think about motorcycles. Constantly checking for bikes when you drive will make the above tips second nature and make you a better driver. To personalize it, think about your friends and family who ride bikes and then drive as if they are on the road with you. Motorcyclists — and everyone else — will thank you.