As a driver, you share the road with other vehicles and other types of vehicles, such as motorcycles. So, in order to be a responsible and well-informed driver, you need to be aware of certain safety procedures you must take in order to share the road safely with those who may be riding a motorcycle. Remember that those riding a motorcycle also have a license to drive and are just as entitled to the road as you are.
Unfortunately, not every driver of a car understands how to share the road with someone who is riding a motorcycle, and the results are often quite tragic. Those who ride a motorcycle are oftentimes shown great disrespect by those who drive cars. This necessitates a lot of safety equipment for motorcyclists, such as helmets with full face and head coverage as well as boots, jackets, and pants that provide a greater degree of protection for those who ride motorcycles. Unfortunately, even all the safety gear which is worn by motorcyclists is almost never enough to protect them when it comes to traffic accidents. The fatality rate for those riding a motorcycle is many times higher than it is for those riding in a car.
In order to protect motorcyclists and share the road with them appropriately, you should observe the following safety tips:
1. Maintain a safe distance between your car and any motorcycles.
Motorcycles are skinny and highly maneuverable compared to a standard vehicle. Many states allow for those who ride motorcycles to “split lanes” (ride in between two lanes) and do other things that normal vehicles are not permitted to do. However, motorcycles are also more susceptible to things that drivers of normal cars generally do not need to worry about, such as being blown off course by a gust of wind. Because of this and other unpredictable elements, the rider of a motorcycle may need the width of a full lane in order to maneuver in a safe manner.
Because motorcycles are so speedy and maneuverable, drivers of regular cars may oftentimes find it difficult to spot them or to maintain lines of sight with them. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that you give a motorcyclist plenty of space (much more than usual) when driving behind a motorcycle or when you are attempting to pass a motorcycle.
2. Use your turn signals to keep motorcyclists safe! And be doubly aware of the motorcyclists’ turn signals!
Because motorcycles come with turn signals that are manually operated, it is possible that a motorcyclist who has his or her turn signal on has simply forgotten to switch it off. Thus, do not assume that a motorcyclist who has a turn signal on will be switching lanes quickly. Definitely do not speed up, expecting that the motorcyclist will no longer be in front of you. Give the motorcyclist ample room and be aware that he or she may or may not be trying to change lanes.
Also, when you are changing lanes and a motorcycle is nearby, use extra caution. First of all, be sure to check your blind spot and your mirrors frequently before you change lanes, as a motorcycle may come upon you suddenly. Also, if a motorcycle is near you when you are changing lanes, be sure to use your turn signal and allow for more time than normal as well as extra space before you switch into the other lane. This way, if another vehicle blocks you from changing lanes, the motorcyclist will still have enough room to maneuver to a safe position.
3. Be aware of the weather.
Weather affects all drivers, but it affects motorcyclists even more. Bad weather like rain, fog, or snow not only changes the way a motorcycle can be maneuvered but also affects visibility. Be sure to give motorcyclists extra space in adverse weather conditions. Be especially mindful of the limited visibility both you and the motorcyclist may have, and act accordingly.
We all can do our part in keeping motorcyclists safe. You may also consider taking a Texas defensive driving course online in order to learn more about how to drive safely around motorcycles. Paying attention to the above advice and the lessons learned from a Texas driving safety course will go a long way toward reducing motorcyclist fatality rates.