For those who have driven an automobile their entire lives, may not understand a motorcyclist’s perspective. In fact, most drivers of cars and trucks don’t give motorcyclists a second thought unless they ride motorcycles themselves, or have friends and family who are motorcycle enthusiasts. However, a general lack of concern for our vulnerable motorists often results in too many auto accidents, personal injuries, and even deaths, every year. If automobile drivers take a moment to understand a few simple facts about how motorcycles function and why motorcyclists respond differently in certain situations, you may avoid an accident and save some lives.
More than half of all motorcycle accidents involves another vehicle. In most cases, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. If you look around on the road, there are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles, and some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcycle. The drivers often ignore the motorcyclists and it is usually done so unintentionally.
Blind spots are often avoidable, however because of a motorcycle’s small size, it can be easily hidden in a blind spot or masked by objects or backgrounds such as bushes, fences, and bridges outside of a car. Make the extra effort to look for motorcycles, whether you are switching lanes or turning at an intersection.
Although it is standard to use rear-view mirrors, a motorcycle may look farther away than it actually is because of it’s small size. Therefore, it may be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When approaching an intersection or leaving the driveway, predict a motorcycle to be closer than it looks to encourage a safety buffer.
Motorcyclists use various techniques to slow down such as downshifting or rolling off the throttle, which does not activate the brake light. To solve this issue, allow more distance between you and the motorcyclist, such as 3 to 4 second safety buffer. When approaching an intersection or traffic light, predict the motorcycle to slow down without triggering a visual warning.
Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane positions frequently for certain purposes, such as to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. It may seem the motorcyclists is being reckless or attempting to show-off, but they are attempting to increase their visibility and safety.
Turn signals on motorcycles are usually not self-canceling, and therefore some motorcyclists (especially novice) sometimes forget to turn the signals off, after a turn or lane change.
The ability for a motorcycle to maneuver easily is one of its positive characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions. However, don’t expect the motorcyclists to have the skills and ability to dodge out of the way immediately.
Motorcycles and cars do not share the same stopping distance, depending on the road conditions and therefore, you should increase the following distance.
When you witness a motorcycle in motion, try to visualize the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor or relative.