The summer months have many people riding motorcycles. To keep the roads safe for everyone, both drivers and motorcyclists need to do their part to protect each other. Motorcycles only make up 3% of all registered vehicles on the road, yet accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2017.
How can drivers help keep motorcyclists safe?
Increased awareness of how motorcyclists think and operate on the road can help car and truck drivers share the road effectively with motorcycles. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the following are five things all drivers should know about motorcycles to keep roads safe:
1. Recognizing motorcycles: Because cars and trucks make up the majority of vehicles on the road, many drivers unintentionally fail to recognize motorcycles in traffic. Over half of all fatal motorcycle collisions involve another vehicle, and the driver of the other vehicle is oftentimes the one at fault. It’s critical driver’s start seeing motorcyclists.
2. Blind spots: Motorcycles have a narrow profile that is easily concealed in your car’s blind spots and objects in the background, such as a fence or bushes. Drivers must take extra time to check for motorcycles before merging or turning at intersections.
3. Motorcycle distance: Motorcycles are smaller than most vehicles and tend to look further away than they are. It’s also difficult to gauge a motorcyclist’s speed when they are approaching. When turning or merging in traffic, assume a motorcyclist is closer than they look to stay safe.
4. Turn signals: Unlike cars, the turn signals on most motorcycles are not self-canceling. A motorcyclist may forget to turn their signal off after changing lanes or turning. Take an extra moment to ensure the motorcycle’s turn signal is for real before making your next move.
5. Braking: A motorcyclist may slow down without giving any visual cues of doing so. While braking on a car or truck activates its brake lights, a motorcyclist can slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle. For this reason, drivers should allow more following distance for motorcycles to ensure they have space to stop in time in an emergency.
Smart driving practices and awareness from all vehicles on the road can reduce the number of motorcyclist injuries and deaths each year. By understanding the unique challenges motorcycles face on the road, you can avoid potentially severe collisions.