How to Share the Road Safely with Motorcycles

Categories: Motorcycle Accidents

motorcycle rider cornering

With the warmer weather finally here, you might find yourself sharing the road with multiple motorcycles.

There is something about the freedom that comes from a motorcycle. When the temperatures are just right, you can get out, get fresh air, and sometimes even get to and from work while spending less in gas. Whether you are in a motor vehicle or on a bike yourself, you need to be aware of your responsibilities.

Motorcycle accidents are especially catastrophic. Riders have no protection from the vehicles around them, the elements, and even the road. This leads to harsher injuries and increases the risk of a fatality tremendously.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that there were 4,295 deaths caused by motorcycle accidents in 2014 and more than 92,000 injuries.

If you were to cause an accident with a motorcycle rider, you could be financially liable for those injuries. Therefore, it is best to do your part by being proactive, safe, and preventing accidents due to your negligence.

10 Things Bellingham Drivers Should Know about Sharing the Road with Motorcycles

Most collisions between passenger vehicles and motorcycles happen because of the driver’s (not rider’s) error.

Not only should you be aware when motorcycles are nearby, but you should also consider these top safety tips for sharing the road with bikes.

Always Check Your Blind Spots

By far the most common cause of accidents between motorcycles and cars is motorists who forget to check their blind spot.

Motorcycles are smaller than passenger vehicles. Therefore, as you merge lanes, they are harder to spot. Before changing lanes, do not just check your mirrors but physically check the blind spot. Even if your car has a blind spot monitoring system, you must check for a rider coming up on the lane beside you.

Use Caution When Passing Riders

You can pass motorcycles just as motor vehicles, but you should do so with caution. All it takes is a gust of wind to move a rider into a vehicle. Also, just like drivers, riders may not look for cars in their blind spot.

Before you do pass the rider and pull in front of them, be sure you have enough space for a few car lengths to prevent any rear-end collisions.

Motorcycles Maneuver Faster Than Vehicles

You should always give yourself extra following distance with a bike. If you were to rear-end a rider, it could lead to a fatal crash. Bikes will often indicate their moves at the last minute, and you could be at fault for rear-ending them.

Know How Weather Effects Riders

Weather affects motorcycles differently compared to motor vehicles. The average passenger vehicle has four wheels, which give it more traction in the rain, ice, or snow. While most riders would not go out in the snow or ice, they will still ride during rainy days, which means mud and slippery surfaces.

Also, wind can make it harder for riders to control their bike. In heavy winds, the rider may get pushed in and out of traffic lanes.

Lastly, remember weather can limit your visibility. Therefore, give yourself more following distance, lower speeds when necessary, and look out for riders.

Avoid High Beams at Night

When you are riding at night, turn off your high beams. These are at eye level with riders, which can blind them and cause an accident. Also, when you are following at night, a black motorcycle can be hard to spot. Therefore, give yourself following distance and look carefully before turning left or right at the intersection while always checking your blind spot.

Keep in Your Lane

Motorcycles can ride in between lanes of traffic, but vehicles cannot. Never try to share a path with a motorcycle rider – regardless of how small your vehicle might be.

Use Your Signals

These days, motorists have become lazy. Using turn signals can save a rider’s life by letting them know your intention. Also, avoid slamming on the brakes at the last minute. A motorcycle may not have the time to respond.

Be Extra Cautious at Intersections

Intersections are where most motorcycle collisions happen with passenger vehicles – especially blind intersections. Make sure you come to a complete stop at an intersection, obey all traffic signals and signs posted, look both ways, and be cautious when turning left in the intersection.

Lookout for Turning Motorcycles

When you put on your turn signal, it self-cancels after the turn completes itself. This feature has been on vehicles for years, but not all motorcycles have the same function. Some bikes today still have no self-canceling turn signal, which means you need to be extra careful when you are behind a bike that has their signal on. The rider may still intend to turn, so do not assume their self-cancel did not work.

Look Twice before Going Left

Before you cross any lane or multiple lanes of traffic to take a left turn, check twice and see if there is an oncoming motorcycle.

An accident when one vehicle is turning left and a motorcycle coming through the intersection can be especially deadly. Typically, the motorcycle will T-bone the passenger vehicle mid-way through their turn. For a motorcycle, a head-on collision like this often ejects the rider and can be fatal.

Motorcycle Accidents Are More Serious

There is no such thing as a fender bender when you are involved in a motorcycle accident. Therefore, drivers and riders alike need to be aware of their surroundings and do what is necessary to avoid a severe accident.

Every licensed motorist must follow the law and avoid causing unnecessary harm to others. Therefore, take caution when you ride, be aware of riders on the road with you, and know your rights if you are involved in an accident.

Contact a Washington Injury Firm

If you or a loved one is injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC today. We offer free consultations, so schedule yours online or by calling 206-488-1611.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.