Motorcyclists should feel free to enjoy the same rights as any other vehicle on the road, and whilst some drivers respect that, others sadly do not. As a regular motorist, it can be hard to fully understand just how different the experience of riding a motorcycle is – and how much more vulnerable it can feel. It’s hard to understand why we need to share the road with motorcycles.
Whether or not you have experienced it first-hand, there are some important insights that could make all the difference when it comes to avoiding a collision with a motorcyclist – and to generally make their time on the road feel safer.
Here are some top safety tips on sharing the road with motorcycles
1. Give Them Space
Whilst a motorcycle may not take up the width of a lane, it is still their right to occupy it alone – all too often drivers see the space as an opportunity to maneuver around the motorbike or to attempt to share the lane side by side. In multiple vehicle accidents, up to 2/3 are caused by other vehicle drivers violating a motorcyclist’s right-of-way. Let them have their lane.
2. Check Your Blind Spots
Another leading cause of accidents involving motorcycles is when motorists fail to see a motorcyclist in time to avoid a collision – they can be particularly difficult to spot while changing lanes or merging with other traffic. Motorcycle Accident Lawyers state that it’s imperative that drivers take the time to consciously check for the presence of maneuvering motorcyclists: “An extra couple of seconds to be sure can make all the difference in avoiding blind spot errors, or worse, accidents.”
3. Obey All Safety Protocol At Intersections
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of all motorcycle accidents happen at traffic intersections, where the likelihood of crossing paths with other vehicles increases. As motorcycles are smaller and harder to spot (particularly in bad weather), it is all too common for preoccupied drivers to fail to properly stop at an intersection before proceeding and miss spotting the motorcyclist completely, resulting in harmful or fatal collisions.
4. Take Caution When Passing
The extra gust of air that can result from an accelerating car passing/overtaking a motorcycle can be enough to cause the rider to become unstable – potentially resulting in them even coming off the road or off the bike completely. Signal and pass a motorcyclist slowly and ensure that you are several car lengths ahead before you merge back into the same lane.
5. Increase Your Following Distance
Driving into the back of a motorcyclist can be fatal. Extra care should be taken to maintain a safe emergency stopping distance when traveling behind a motorcycle, particularly in poor weather conditions.
6. Respect The Added Risks Of Night Driving
Driving safely at night requires several added considerations to safe daytime driving. Reflective street lighting, incorrect use of high-beams, and increased driver-fatigue are just some of the added complications arising from driving in the dark. For a motorcyclist, it can be particularly nerve-wracking – already tricky to spot, they are especially vulnerable to the heightened dangers that driving at night can pose.
- Be particularly cautious to check for maneuvering motorcyclists.
- Reduce your speed in general.
- Increase your following distance further still. Try to refrain from passing a motorcyclist at night
- Ensure that your high beams aren’t on when you see one approaching.
7. Respect Their Right-Of-Way
As previously mentioned, failure to yield to a motorcyclist’s right-of-way is the most frequent driver error when it comes to multiple vehicle collisions involving motorcycles. Whether it be a failure to see the motorcyclist or an insufficient understanding of right-of-way laws, this is a particularly preventable accident risk. Even in perfect conditions and driving at minimal speeds while turning, the damage to a motorcyclist (with no protection from the shell of a car) can be severe. Take your time when navigating intersections, respect the rights of motorcyclists and, if necessary, brush up on the rules of the road.
8. Take Extra Care In Bad Weather
Driving in bad weather is more easily hazardous for motorcyclists than it is for motorists. Heavy rain, wind, or snow can make it much harder to control a motorcycle and, combined with a poor road surface of potholes or uneven bitumen, motorcyclists can really have their work cut out for them to stay safe. So, in addition to the extra care, you should be taking when driving in poor conditions, spare a thought for the poor motorcyclist braving the elements and exercise even further caution when it comes to following distances, keeping their whereabouts insight, avoiding passing them, and being considerate to their right-of-way.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and respected on the road – so thank you for doing your part and taking the time to consider the safety of motorcyclists!