Motorcyclists get a bad rap for being “crazy” or negligent drivers, but much of this is due to other motorists not understanding the mechanics of motorcycles and the challenges they present to those who ride them. It would be easy to throw together a list of safety tips for motorcyclists, but in reality, most experienced riders already know how to be safe on their bike. What’s just as important, if not more, is for other drivers to understand how to drive safely around motorcycles. We tend to become complacent behind the wheel, which can put those we share the road with in danger, especially motorcycles. Check out these tips any four-wheeled vehicle driver should consider to keep themselves and motorcyclists safe!
- Give them some space. It’s useful to follow the 4-second rule when driving behind a motorcycle. That is, give yourself a 4-second cushion of space between your vehicle and the motorcycle in front of you. Motorcycles are able to stop much quicker than cars and it’s often difficult to see the small brake light or a manual turn signal. Give yourself extra space so you have time to react if you need to.
- Look twice before turning…and then look again. Nearly half of fatal motorcycle accidents happen when a vehicle is trying to turn left and the motorcycle is going straight. Before turning left, right, or just switching lanes, look in both directions three times. Motorcycles are often going faster than they appear, so pay attention and don’t try to gun it in front of them.
- Use your turn signals. You should always be doing this anyway, but it’s especially important when motorcycles are present. Motorcycle drivers must drive defensively, and therefore are constantly trying to anticipate what you will do next. Use your turn signal to let them know your intended move before you do it.
- Let them swerve. You may find it annoying when you notice a motorcyclist swerving within their lane, but often they do this for their own safety. Motorcyclists must avoid potholes, oil spots, and other kinds of debris that full sized vehicles don’t have to worry about. Some riders do this to keep out of surrounding vehicles’ blind spots as well.
- Move over. If you notice a motorcyclist swerving in and out of their lane during traffic, it could also be for good reason. Some bikes will overheat at slow speeds or the driver may be avoiding the negligence of other drivers. If you see a motorcycle quickly approaching in your rearview mirror, don’t try to block them in—move over if you can do so safely.
- Don’t get mad. It’s important not to take anything personally on the road, especially from motorcyclists. Realize that often times, riders rev their engines not to show off, but to alert you of their presence. They might speed past you not to be a jerk, but to get out of your way. Be nice and don’t let your blood boil. Road rage is a blog topic for another day.
Whether you like motorcycles or not, know that most motorcyclists are just trying to make it from point A to point B safely, just like you. The difference is that on a motorcycle, driving through traffic becomes exponentially more dangerous, and even a small error can be disastrous. When you get behind the wheel, be mindful of your fellow motorcyclists and help keep the roads safe for everyone!