Safe driving: Sharing the road with motorcycles

Part of being a responsible driver is understanding the differences between motorcycles and cars.  No one wants to be involved in a collision. Thinking about safety while driving can help us avoid an accident. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2021, 10.5% of all traffic fatalities were motorcycle riders. If you are not a motorcycle driver, then you should start by
understanding the challenges faced by a motorcyclist.

motorcycle at sunset

Why should you be extra careful around motorcycles?

If you are not a motorcycle driver, then you should start by understanding the challenges faced by a motorcyclist.  Motorcycles have the right to the full use of the lane, and often riders need the lane’s full width to respond to and handle hazards such as potholes, shifting traffic, strong winds, or blasts of air from passing vehicles.  Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. You should respect its space and position in traffic.  Here are some motorcycle safety tips for car drivers.

Common questions & motorcycle safety tips for car drivers

What is the proper following distance behind a motorcyclist?

Allow a lengthy following distance behind a motorcycle so the cyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Both motorcyclists and drivers are more likely to make bad decisions if there is not enough braking distance or time to react to conditions. Also, remember that a motorcycle may be able to stop faster than a car, so you need to allow extra following distance to allow yourself time to stop.

girl on motorcycle

Can you pass motorcycles?

Pass motorcycles as you would pass a car, and do not pass too close or too fast. Make sure to check your blind spots when changing lanes. Cyclists riding alongside a line of cars are often out of the view of a driver in the line. An unsuspecting driver may change lanes and clip or hit a motorcycle. A common reason bikes crash is because motorists don’t see them until it’s too late.

Can you turn with motorcycles nearby?

When turning, signal your intention to turn while watching for oncoming motorcycles. If a rider is dealing with a gust of wind or a wobbly passenger, the rider may not be able to stop as quickly as you think, so allow plenty of time or wait until the motorcyclist passes you before beginning your turn. At intersections, where many collisions and injuries occur, wait until the rider’s intentions are absolutely clear (turning or going straight) before you move into the path of travel.

motorcycle on city street

Other tips to be extra safe when driving near motorcycles:

  • Anticipate motorcyclists’ maneuvers. A cyclist will change lane position to prepare for upcoming traffic and road conditions.
  • Expect and allow room for the rider to adjust to road hazards that you cannot see.
  • Compensate for difficult driving conditions: Rain, wet roads, ice, and heavy winds. The motorcycle’s braking and handling abilities are impaired.
  • Pay extra attention at night. You can easily misjudge distance because the single headlight and tail light of a motorcycle can blend into the lights of other vehicles.
  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing signal from a motorcycle. Often their signals do not cancel out or click off after making a turn. The rider may have to stabilize before turning it off manually.
  • Sometimes the motorcyclist may not realize their signal is still on, so make sure the motorcycle is actually going to turn before you proceed.

Have you been in a motorcycle accident?

The attorneys at Allen & Allen have many years of experience with motorcycle accident cases. If you have been hurt by a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the motorcycle accident attorneys at Allen & Allen at 866-388-1307.