If you’re like most drivers, you aren’t actively looking for motorcycles. Visually speaking, you’re much more likely to keep an eye out for other cars and trucks. But if you’re going to be a safe driver, you need to learn to share the road with everyone.
4 Tips for Sharing the Road
By the nature of their design, motorcycles are far less crashworthy than cars, trucks, and other four-wheel vehicles. Their small frame also makes them less visible to other drivers and, therefore, more dangerous.
While motorcycle accidents have gone down slightly in recent years, they’re still responsible for thousands of deaths every year. In 2017, 5,172 motorcycle riders were killed in traffic fatalities. And despite only making up 3 percent of the entire registered motor vehicle fleet in the United States, they account for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Tens of thousands of motorcycle riders are injured each year. According to The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, the most commonly cited causes include:
- Cutting off a motorcyclist at an intersection
- Failure to yield
- Following too closely
- Swerving in front of a motorcyclist
- Driving under the influence
Injuries range from road rash and broken bones to internal organ damage and brain trauma. And while motorcyclists certainly need to increase their own emphasis on safe driving, we all play a role in making our roads safer for these motorists.
As a driver, here are some tips that should help you to better share the road with motorcycles and, as a result, enhance the safety of everyone.
- Always Check Blind Spots
Think about how common it is to not see a car in your blind spot. Now consider how much smaller a motorcycle is and how easily they can get swallowed in these voids.
Prior to changing lanes, always make sure you do a visible check of your blind spots by physically looking over your shoulder. By getting in the habit of looking for vehicles (big and small), you’ll be less likely to hit a motorcycle rider or cause them to swerve off the road.
- Use Caution When Passing
You’re allowed to pass a motorcycle just like you would any other vehicle. However, make sure you provide plenty of space and warning.
Depending on the speed at which you’re driving, passing a motorcycle at a close distance could actually create a gust of wind that causes the rider to become unstable or lose balance. This is why it’s recommended that you signal for a few seconds and maintain a distance of at least three car lengths.
- Be Cognizant of Weather
Most drivers don’t think too much about weather when driving. While it’s always preferable to have nice conditions, newer vehicles are equipped with so many different safety features and technology that there really isn’t a whole lot of risk involved. The same can’t be said for motorcycle riders, who are far more susceptible to the effects of inclement weather.
“Rain and winter weather in particular can make it almost impossible for motorcyclist to continue to travel,” Driving-Tests.org explains. “Windy conditions can make it difficult for motorcyclists to control their vehicle on the road. Also remember that weather conditions often reduce your own visibility and may cause motorcycles to be more difficult to see.”
Whether it’s rain, winter weather, or extreme wind, try your best not to ride directly in front of or beside motorcycles. These conditions can lead to unpredictable situations and it’s best to have some separation.
- Don’t Tailgate
When driving behind a motorcycle, follow the four-second rule (which states that you should be at least four seconds behind.) You can measure this by choosing an object on or beside the road (like a sign, tree, or house) and counting the seconds between when the motorcycle passes it and when your vehicle passes it. If it’s less than four seconds, tap the brakes and adjust your speed.
Put Safety First
It doesn’t take that much effort to prioritize safety. With just a few simple tweaks to your habits and routines, you can make the road safer for everyone – including vulnerable motorcyclists. You can’t singlehandedly change the world, but you can do your part!