As drivers, we place a significant role in improving the safety of riders. Through simple actions we can help reduce the number of vehicle-motorcycle crashes and reduce the number of rider lives lost and significant injuries.
Look Twice for Motorcycles
Approximately half of all motorcycle crashes involve striking or being struck by another vehicle. Often times these crashes are due to a motorist not seeing a motorcycle and rider approaching and performing a maneuver that jeopardizes the rider. Drivers often provide comments such as “He came out of nowhere!!!” and “I never saw them before I turned!” Always look twice for motorcycles and, just as importantly, scan the driving environment specifically for the presence of motorcycles. They can be more challenging to see because of their small size compared to vehicles.
Find additional important driver safety tips and information from the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” motorcycle safety campaign. Click here to learn more.
Give Riders Space To the Side
Given riders more space can help improve their safety. Driving too close next to them can cause erratic bike handling due to the movement of air around your vehicle that impacts the motorcycle.
Give Riders Space To the Front
Give riders lots of space when you are following them. Motorcycles can brake much more effectively than a vehicle and therefore stop in a much shorter distance. This can surprise many drivers, particularly those that are distracted, and result in a vehicle rear-ending the motorcycle.
Give Riders Greater Clearance in Inclement Weather Conditions
Riding a motorcycle is fun and quite enjoyable on sunny days. Riding in inclement weather can be challenging, particularly because vehicle traffic can exacerbate risk in these conditions. Rain, sleet, and snow make it more extremely difficult to see because of the water on the the rider’s visor…remember, riders do not have wipers to remove water. Wet riding also makes the handlebars more slippery difficult to grip. When driving around motorcycles in rainy conditions, give them extra clearance to minimize the water churned up by your vehicle and sprayed onto them. IF you are in front of them, consider changing lanes or pulling further ahead of them.
Be Cautious Around Motorcycles at Night
Due to their smaller provide it can be difficult to see motorcycles during the day. Seeing motorcycles at night is extremely difficult due to the use of a single headlight. In addition, judging the distance to a single headlight is quite difficult which means you might misjudge when you need to turn in front of them or when they will turn in front of you. Give riders plenty of distance at night and always assume they are closer than they appear.
Change Your Perception of Distance
Research has indicated that people are not able to detect movement, distance, and speed of small objects compared to larger ones. For you and I this means that we can judge these features pretty well with large trucks and not so well with motorcycles. Always assume the motorcycle is closer than what you think. Allow them extra time to make their maneuver and give yourself extra time to make yours.
Understand the Rider
Would you purposely put your sibling, parent, child, or friend at a higher risk for a crash? Likely not. Remember that each person on a motorcycle is someone’s son, daughter, mom, dad, neighbor, doctor, etc and they have family and friends that would miss then dearly. Given riders space, don’t raise their risk, let them get home to their family.