What They Don't Teach You in the Driving Manual
When we drive, we’re forced to cooperate with people we don’t know. Sometimes we encounter driving behaviors that seem reckless, crazy or even stupid. But with motorcyclists, these behaviors often aren’t crazy or reckless and are actually intended to increase their safety. For example, motorcyclists often weave in and out of lanes to avoid getting caught in the blind spots of the cars around them. While most drivers know basic information about proper driving behaviors, they may not know the ins and outs about driving safely around motorcycles. This website is designed to get you up to speed on motorcyclists’ behaviors and what vehicle drivers can do to keep the roads safe for our two-wheeled friends.
So, what can you do to help?
Be Aware of Intersection Dangers.
Forty two percent of fatal motorcycle crashes that involved another motor vehicle involved a vehicle turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing or overtaking a vehicle. There are things you can do to better your odds of avoiding a crash at an intersection. Take a little bit of extra time to use your rear- and side- view mirrors to ensure that nobody is in your blind spots. If you are turning at an intersection, and your view of oncoming traffic is partially obstructed, wait until you can see around the obstruction, scan for all roadway users (pedestrians and motorcyclists included), and proceed with caution. Slow your decision-making process down at intersections.
Know Your Vehicle's Blind Spots.
Nearly half of the area around a vehicle hidden by blind spots. And when you see a motorcyclist weaving from left to right within a lane, this is generally a motorcyclist's attempt to avoid blind spots and be more visible to vehicles around them. Understanding your specific vehicle's blind spots can significantly improve your odds of avoiding a collision with a motorcyclist, particularly during a lane change maneuver. Blind spots are an even greater danger for motorcyclists at roadways that are not necessarily the same grade as, or completely perpendicular to a driveway or parking lot, because this can significantly impact the line of sight for a driver. Extra care should be taken to compensate for a lack of vision in blind spots, line-of-sight blind spots where the crest or crater of a hill is near the roadway entrance, and curved roadways where roadside and vehicular obstructions can limit reaction times.
Stay Alert. Motorcycles Are Hard to See.
Because of its narrow profile, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots, masked by objects outside a car, or difficult to see as light or weather conditions change. If a motorist can’t recognize or see the motorcyclist that is approaching, it’s difficult to avoid colliding with them. In many fatal motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle, the motorist often claims, “I just didn’t see him.” It’s common for motorists to overlook the presence of motorcycles, or underassess a motorcyclist’s distance. This significantly increases the odds of a collision.
Be Aware of Motorcycle Braking Issues.
Many drivers don't know that motorcyclists often downshift or roll off the throttle to slow down instead of applying their brakes. No braking means no brake lights to signal motorists. Because motorcyclists often decelerate faster and downshift to brake, it's critical for motorists to allow a larger braking cushion around motorcycles. Allow more following distance, say three or four seconds, than you would normally would for another vehicle.