7 Tips for Sharing the Road with Motorcycles

Accidents involving cars, vans, and trucks are the biggest threat to motorcycle riders out on the road. Since motorcycles don’t have the benefits of outer frames, air bags, or seatbelts, what would be a minor crash between cars can cause significant injury or death for a motorcyclist. This guide will include 7 motorcycle awareness tips to help drives safely share the road with riders. However, these safe driving tips also extend beyond situations which involve motorcycles.

Check Your Blind Spots

Checking your blind spots is an important part of navigating the roadways whether or not a motorcycle is nearby. But while you might notice a large vehicle like a car or truck when checking your blind spots, motorcycles aren’t always so lucky. Due to their smaller profile, motorcycles can be easily overlooked or blend into the background.

No Distractions

Motorcycles lined up

Distracted and impaired driving is the leading cause of major traffic incidents. Whether your in a car, van, truck, or on a motorcycle, never engage in activities which take your attention off the road and your surroundings.

Even a single second of inattentiveness can cause a crash, and if a motorcycle is involved, the consequences can often be much more severe. If your awareness of your surroundings is compromised, your awareness of nearby motorcyclists is too.

Motorcyclists Need Their Space

While it may be easy to look at the small size of a motorcycle and think it needs less space than your car, this is both incorrect and dangerous. Motorcyclists have the right to the full width of their lane as well as an increased distance behind their vehicle compared to cars.

Despite being smaller than cars, Motorcycles require the the full width of their lane in order to avoid object or potholes in the road. Cars following motorcycles should also observe the 4 second rule rather than the 2 second rule for following other cars. Motorcycles can stop much quicker than larger vehicles, so this extra space is necessary for preventing pileups.

Pass with Caution

Motorcyclist riding

While it’s always a good idea to signal your intent to pass another vehicle, this is extra important when the vehicle you plan to overtake is a motorcycle. The wind generated from your passing may make the the motorcycle unstable, so giving the rider a warning before you overtake them can give them time to make the necessary adjustments.

After you’ve successfully passed the motorcyclist, you still need to be aware of their position on the road. To ensure you are fully passed the rider, wait until you can see them in your rearview mirror and are multiple car lengths ahead of them before merging back into their lane.

Be Wary of the Weather

Despite what you might think, even minor weather conditions such as slight rain increases the likelihood of a crash. You may have noticed that traffic slows down during poor weather, well, motorcycles are no exception. Weather effects motorcycles and their riders even more than it does cars, so watch out for motorcyclists who are being extra cautious in poor weather conditions.

Turning Etiquette

Motorcycle crash

As with when passing, motorcycle awareness is extremely important when making turns whether they’re to the left or right. Always signal your intent to turn so nearby motorcyclists have a clear understanding of your intended movements. But simply signaling isn’t enough, it’s also important to check your surroundings for incoming motorcycles both in front of and behind you.

Motorcycles have turn signals too, however, in models older than the 1970s automatic turn signals are not the norm. This means that even if you see a motorcycle with its turn signal activated, it may simply be a case of the rider forgetting to disable their signal. Don’t assume a motorcyclist is going to turn just because their turn signal is active, wait to see what they actually do.

Properly Dispose of Trash

Cigarette trash on the road

Littering isn’t only bad for the planet, but it’s also potentially hazardous for motorcyclists. Trash thrown from the windows of moving vehicles can become obstacles riders need to avoid, or can even impair their vision if it hits their face, goggles, or helmet.

Even trash which is already out on the sides of the road can be blown back into the path of a motorcyclist and cause a major crash. In this case, motorcycle awareness and environmental awareness go hand in hand.

Consult an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in which a larger vehicle was involved, you likely have a valid claim. Most accidents involving both cars and motorcycles are caused by the driver of the larger vehicle not properly observing the motorcyclist’s rights on the road. Our priorities include making sure you get compensated for the injuries you’ve sustained from a crash caused by someone else. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact Donaghue and Labrum to set up your free initial consultation.