Motorcycle Safety – Sharing the Road with Bikers
May 17, 2023
May is motorcycle safety awareness month. There are over 160,000 registered motorcycles in Massachusetts. Over 2,000 motorcycle accidents occur every year in the state; 80% of them resulting in a serious injury or death. Earlier in the month, we published a blog with safety tips for motorcycle riders. With that being said, we know that asking motorcyclists to be more safe isn’t the entire equation, when it comes to keeping motorcycle riders safe on the road. It is also the responsibility of drivers of automobiles to properly share the road with motorcyclists. Here are some safety tips for drivers that need to share the road.
Motorcycle Safety Mental Strategies
Always check your blind spots
One of the most common reasons for accidents involving motorcycles and cars is that they are able to blend in easier via a car’s blind spots. Since motorcycles are smaller than cars, they are even more difficult to spot changing lanes. Take your time before merging and devote several seconds to searching each of your car’s blind spots before proceeding with your intended maneuver.
Watch for turning motorcycles
Self-cancelling turn signals did not become standard on motorcycles until the late 1970s. There are still many motorcycles on the road today that do not have the self-cancelling turn signals that we are now accustomed to. If you notice that a motorcycle is driving with an activated turn signal for an abnormal distance, increase your following distance so that you have time to react whenever the rider does decide to turn.
Take a second look at left-turns
Before you cross lanes of traffic to turn left, take a second look at the approaching motorcycles. Vehicle accidents can be very severe, often because the motorcycle T-bones the car while it is mid-way through the left turn.
Remember that there is no such thing as a fender-bender for a motorcycle rider. They’re completely exposed. Most multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles end up with serious or fatal injuries for the rider. It is your responsibility, as the driver of an automobile, to take caution and do everything in your power to prevent motorcycle accidents.
Put away your phone
The easiest way to make a motorcyclist feel safe is by putting away your phone. You shouldn’t be using it while driving in the first place, as it is the most common form of distracted driving.
Only drive sober
Alcohol slows down your reaction time, reduces your concentration, and substantially impairs your vehicle control. You need full control of your car, especially when driving near motorcycles.
Talk to young drivers about motorcycle safety
Newer drivers might not be aware of the damage they can cause to a motorcyclist if they make a mistake while driving. Inform them that they need to share the roads and always be alert to their surroundings.
Pay attention in construction zones
Operating a motorcycle in a construction zone can be challenging, especially if there are rough patches, obstacles, or grade or surface changes. Give them extra space in case they have to make a quick stop or turn.
Remember that motorcycles react quicker than cars
Make sure that you maintain and adequate following distance behind motorcycles. Rear-ending a motorcycle can be fatal to the rider, particularly if you drive a large vehicle.
Be extra cautious when passing
It is lawful to pass a motorcycle in the same way you would an automobile, assuming that you are driving on a section of roadway that allows passing. However, the gust of wind that results from your increase in speed as you pass could cause the motorcycle to become unstable and blow the rider off the road. Make sure to signal your intention to pass a slower motorcyclist by using your left turn signal. Always make sure you are several car lengths ahead of the motorcycle before returning to your lane.
Stay in your lane
Motorcycles are legally entitled to their own lane of traffic. In no situation are you allowed to drive your automobile in the same lane and in close proximity to a motorcycle. No matter how small these vehicles are or how much extra room that there appears to be, sharing a single lane with a motorcycle is a recipe for an accident, and it’s also illegal.
Give motorcyclists extra space
It’s common to misjudge the speed and distance of a motorcycle compared to a car. Always give bikes an extra cushion to prevent rear-ending them if you have to come to a quick stop.
Night riding can be treacherous for motorcycles
Some ways that you can help riders stay safe after dark are: increasing your following distance, ensuring that your high beams are turned off when you notice an approaching motorcycle, and refraining from passing.
Inform motorcyclists of your intention to turn
Initiate your turn signal sooner than you normally would when you know there is a motorcycle driving behind you. Not only is this courteous, it helps to reduce pile-ups involving motorcycles.
Intersections are danger zones
Many vehicle accidents that involve both automobiles and motorcycles occur at intersections, particularly blind intersections. Always follow the safety protocol for intersections every single time that you approach one: come to a complete halt, view and obey posted traffic signs and signals, look both ways for approaching traffic, and proceed slowly.
Don’t rely on turn signals
You can’t always trust a driver to properly use their turn signals. Keep in mind that a motorcycle could potentially cut in front of you without a signal.
Other Motorcycle Safety Recommendations
Just like it’s important for bikers to look ahead at the weather before riding, it’s also important for drivers to be mindful of the weather too. Rain and windy weather in particular can make it almost impossible for motorcyclists to travel. Also remember that weather conditions often reduce your own visibility and may cause motorcycles to be more difficult to see.
Adjust your mirrors
Your mirrors should be adjusted to minimize blind spots. Cars are usually easy to see, but a much smaller motorcycle can sneak into a bind spot.
Open doors cautiously
If you park on a road with heavy traffic, be sure to look behind you when you open the door. You could open your door and clip a motorcyclist if you aren’t paying attention.
Have your passenger(s) watch for motorcyclists
Your passengers can see different parts of the road that are a blind spot to you. Have them alert you if they see a motorcycle approaching in case you missed it.
Turn down the volume
Usually, you can hear a motorcycle long before you see it – unless you’re blasting music in your car. Try to keep your volume at a reasonable level so that you can hear a motorcycle approaching.
WebFirst Insurance offers insurance on motorcycles, along with other Recreational Vehicles. As this biking season starts up, consider checking out WebFirst Insurance to fulfill your insurance needs. We provide exceptional service and years of insurance knowledge to help find you an affordable rate based on your needs.