Sharing the Road with Motorcycles

Some of the lessons we were taught at a young age have a way of staying with us as adults. Take sharing, for example.

We encourage children to share their toys, share with their class, and share lessons learned. As they get older, they learn there are exceptions to the sharing rule—like toothbrushes, passwords, and account information. While the rules of sharing are not always clear, they are a little clearer when it comes to sharing the road with motorcycles.

Here are some ways to exhibit “sharing is caring” while on the road:

Lane etiquette. Motorcycles have rightful and full use of traffic lanes, the same as cars and trucks. Do not try to share lanes with motorcycles. (That kind of sharing is bad.)

Mirror, mirror. Check your blind spots and be extra cautious when merging or changing lanes. Motorcycles are small and may blend into other images in your mirrors, veer in and out of blind spots, and be faster than they appear. Also, make sure your vehicle’s side-view mirrors are set correctly.

Four is more. When a motorcycle is traveling in front of your vehicle, allow more distance behind them than you would a car or truck. Apply the 4-second rule instead of the 2-second rule.

Pass with care. If you are going to pass a motorcycle, be mindful that the gust of wind created from your vehicle’s increased speed could cause the motorcycle to become unstable and result in a serious accident. As always, use your vehicle’s turn signal to alert other drivers of your intent to pass, and move several car lengths ahead of the vehicle before returning to your lane.

Taking turns. (Another childhood lesson.) Be aware that a motorcycle’s turn signal may not automatically cancel after a turn, since this wasn’t a standard feature for cycles manufactured prior to the 80s. If a cycle’s turn signal is on, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to turn—it may still be on from a previous turn. Use extra caution when turning left in front of a motorcycle. If unsure of the motorcycle’s intention, wait to turn until the motorcycle has passed.

Motorcyclists are more likely to be injured and injured seriously due to the lack of safety features and protections found in cars and trucks (airbags, seat belts, doors). Weather conditions pose driving challenges for all drivers, but they can be more treacherous for motorcyclists, particularly wind. Look out for motorcycles. Follow the rules of the road and follow these tips for sharing the road with motorcycles.

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