If you’ve ever felt nervous driving near a motorcycle, you’re not alone. With their small size and lack of safety features, the vulnerability of motorcyclists on the road can rattle even the most seasoned drivers.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take as a driver to safely and confidently share the road with bikers. The next time you find you encounter a motorcyclist, here are some general rules to keep in mind:
Drivers shouldn’t tailgate in general, but it’s an especially good idea to leave extra space when sharing the roads with a motorcyclist. Poor road conditions or weather conditions may require the motorcycle to weave within their lane, brake suddenly or even wipe out on the road.
You can practice the four-second rule – choosing a fixed object and counting the seconds between when the motorcycle passes it and when you pass it – to give yourself time to react to the unexpected.
Double-check your blind spots
Too often, car drivers don’t see a motorcyclist until it’s too late. Motorcycles are much smaller in size than the average vehicle and often appear further away than they actually are. It’s all too easy for a motorcyclist to slip into your car’s blind spots.
Check your blind spots regularly and especially when merging lanes on the road. Utilize your rearview mirror, side mirrors and swivel your head from side to side often to be aware of your surroundings.
Stay vigilant at intersections
According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a staggering 44% of two-vehicle fatal motorcycle collisions were caused by a car trying to turn left while the motorcycle went straight. It’s critical to be as predictable as possible when you see a motorcyclist at an intersection.
If you can, make eye contact with the motorcyclist before turning in their direction and always use your turn signals. Unlike cars, a motorcycle may not have self-cancelling turn signals, so be cautious of lingering signals, too.
Adjust for weather conditions
Inclement weather puts everyone on the road at risk, but it’s particularly hazardous for bikers. If you encounter a motorcycle on the road caught in some bad weather, be patient with them and give them the space they require to navigate safely.
By understanding the unique challenges bikers face on the road, you can anticipate their needs and avoid needless accidents and injuries. Keep your eye out for motorcyclists this summer and drive responsibly.