June 29th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
If you drive a car or truck, look out for the little guy. After all, even the smallest car is still bigger than every motorcycle on the road.
What’s more, motorcycle riders zip in and out of lanes, making it easy to lose track of them, and they are more vulnerable because they don’t have the protection that cars and trucks give to drivers. In the case of a collision, the motorcycle has a much greater risk.
Sharing the road with motorcycles is more important than ever. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in 2018, and are 28 times as likely as passengers in a car to die in an accident.
To reduce that number, here are 10 tips for safely sharing the road with motorcycles:
1. Be aware of blind spots
One of the most common factors in collisions with motorcycles is that the driver in the vehicle does not see the rider. Why should you visually check for motorcycles when changing lanes?
It is easy to lose sight of them as motorcycles are much smaller than cars, and they tend to switch lanes a lot. Get in the habit of frequently turning your head to check your blind spots, especially before changing lanes.
2. Be extra cautious in bad weather
When it is raining or snowing, it is easier for cars to navigate the road than for motorcyclists. Their visibility could be impaired, and it is easier for them to slip and slide. In addition, windy conditions can make life very difficult for motorcyclists; a surge of wind can push them from side to side. If you spot a motorcycle in inclement weather, slow down and give the rider a little extra time and room to proceed.
3. Create breathing room
Sharing the road with motorcycles should become second nature for car drivers. When you are trailing a motorcycle, ensure that you maintain a safe distance. A good rule of thumb is to keep 4 to 5 seconds apart. You can measure the time by locating a landmark and counting the seconds between when the motorcyclist passes it and when you pass it.
If the motorcyclist unexpectedly slows down, keeping your distance will give you time to avoid a collision. Rear-ending a motorcycle could be fatal to the rider.
4. Make eye contact at an intersection
Many motorcycle accidents happen at intersections, so always exercise with abundant caution. Every time you approach an interaction, be sure to look for and obey traffic signs and signals, scan both directions for oncoming traffic, and then proceed cautiously. That is the least we can do, and it’s all part of sharing the road with motorcycles safely. Minimize any confusion by making eye contact with, or gesturing to, the rider before turning.
5. Be nice
Safety should always be your main concern. You and everyone else are just trying to get from point A to point B. It’s not a race or a competition. If someone passes you or cuts you off, give them the benefit of the doubt. In most cases, whatever he or she did to annoy you was not intentional.
Road rage is a real problem, and you never know who you’re dealing with. Keep your cool and always try to be nice to your fellow drivers, whether they’re in a motorcycle or a four-wheel vehicle.
6. Be extra careful when passing
It is fine to pass a motorcycle just like you would pass any other vehicle, but be sure to exercise caution. Why should you visually check for motorcycles when changing lanes? You may not realize it, but while you accelerate by them, you could create a gust of wind and cause a problem for the biker, sometimes even blow him off the road.
To avoid this scenario, be sure to signal before you pass, try to make eye contact with the rider, and keep a safe distance ahead of him before making your move.
7. Turn off your high beams
Motorcyclists face many hazards at night. You can help them stay safe by increasing your following distance and not passing them. If you see an oncoming motorcycle, or any other vehicle for that matter, turn off your high beams when they are within 500 feet of you.
8. Motorcycle Lane splitting is not necessarily illegal
Drivers who witness motorcycle lane splitting are often confused. Largely because they think it’s dangerous, akin to cheating, and illegal. The truth is, it is left to the discretion of highway patrol officers in most states.
Oregon is an example in which motorcycle lane splitting is explicitly illegal, and, on the other side of the spectrum, California is the only state in which motorcycle lane splitting is explicitly legal.
Check your state highway patrol for the most up-to-date information.
9. Avoid left-turn collisions
Car collisions involving a turning vehicle and a motorcycle can be bad for both parties. Use extra caution when making a turn, and make sure to look twice before crossing a lane of traffic. If you see an approaching motorcyclist, indicate your intentions to him.
Also, if there is a motorcyclist behind you, turn your signal on sooner than usual, so as to give sufficient notice before slowing down to make a turn.
10. HOV lane motorcycle issue
Is the HOV lane motorcycle-friendly? Some drivers feel the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane is reserved for cars with more than one person, and they want to know why motorcyclists who use it are not ticketed.
Generally speaking, HOV lanes are designed for cars with two or more occupants, buses, and yes, motorcycles. They have every right to use the HOV lane. However, there is no federal law regulating this, so it’s up to the individual states to decide for themselves. For more information on the HOV lane motorcycle issue, contact your state highway patrol.
To summarize, sharing the road with motorcycles is something we all need to do a better job of. Why should you visually check for motorcycles when changing lanes? One reason is that blind spots exist, and motorcycle lane splittingis another. We also touched on the HOV lane motorcycle issue; where the lane was designed for motorcycles as well depending on individual states.
As the bigger fish in the sea, car drivers need to make sure they share the road with their two-wheel cousins and do everything in their power to avoid accidents. The majority of accidents involving a motorcycle and another vehicle end up causing significant injuries to the motorcyclists, and are often fatal.
If every driver out there follows the tips outlined in this blog-post, we can reduce the number of motorcycle accidents and make our roads safer for everyone.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Mount Vernon a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing customers in Mount Vernon, Washington as well as Skagit County neighborhood.