For Drivers: Watch for Motorcycles in Intersections
The first rule of pulling into an intersection is to look both ways. The second rule should be to look a second time, to make sure there isn’t a motorcycle approaching. When we’re looking for vehicles, it’s very easy to miss the motorcycle, that’s not as large. So many accidents are caused by this very thing, every year in Maine. And it’s one thing we can help prevent by just taking that extra couple of seconds to check, and check again.
Be Mindful of the Motorcycle Traveling Near You
Take a look at that white vehicle that’s changing lanes. Do they seem too close to the motorcycle? Yep, that’s an accident waiting to happen. Always pay attention to motorcycles on the road, whether they’re behind you, beside you, or in front of you. We all have to share the road, and that instant when you forget that there’s a motorcycle traveling near you could result in something like this situation.
Don’ Stop Too Quickly with a Bike Behind You
Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, and you have to slam on your brakes. At this point, you hope that the motorcycle behind you isn’t traveling too closely. But if it’s something you can avoid, do it. About to miss your turn? Instead of hitting those brakes hard and turning the wheel, consider driving another block and doubling back. If the biker traveling behind you doesn’t have time to react they’re going to end up hitting your car, which will likely throw the rider to the pavement or into your vehicle. Plan ahead, pay attention, and use your blinkers.
Use Your Blinkers Well in Advance of Your Turn
I’m guilty of not using my blinkers as often as I should. In fact, I tend to use them more at 5 AM, when there’s no one on the road with me, than at noon when I’m headed home. But I always make sure I’m using them when there’s a motorcycle traveling behind me. The bike’s rider needs to know my intentions, allowing them time to react, so I flip that blinker on a little sooner. Try to put yourself in that rider’s place, and understand that they can’t read your mind. Make your intentions clear, at all times.
Don’t Ride Too Close to a Motorcycle
I’ve heard my motorcycle-riding husband complain about this enough, that it’s something I always try to be conscious of when driving behind a motorcycle. You have to leave room between you and the motorcycle in front of you, so you have lots of braking room. If traffic stops suddenly, and a vehicle is too close to the bike in front of it, it’s going to be a lot harder on the rider than it is on that driver when they collide. Being hit suddenly from behind could propel that rider off the bike and onto the pavement, or into the vehicle in front of them. So don’t tailgate. Make sure there’s plenty of room between you and the bike in front of you, and watch for blinkers so you can slow down even more, if they’re about to turn.
Always Have Your Headlight On
Just like daylight running lights on a vehicle, the headlight on a motorcycle will enable other motorists to see that bike more clearly. It’s amazing how easy it is to miss seeing a motorcycle, when pulling into traffic, unless that headlight is on. It’s the biker’s responsibility to make themselves as visible, as possible, so turn on your headlight, don’t ride in a driver’s blind spot, and don’t try passing them on the incorrect side. Be visible and predictable in your movements.
Use Blinkers Well in Advance of Your Turn
When my husband got his latest bike, it had these tiny blinkers that a driver wouldn’t even notice until it was too late. He changed them out for some aftermarket blinkers that are easier to see, but still don’t ruin the lines of the sport bike. It’s so important for drivers to be forewarned that a motorcyclist plans to make a turn. So use the blinkers all the time, and put them on well in advance of that turn, rather then at the last minute. Anticipate your route and let the driver know your intentions so everyone knows how to react.
Don’t Ride Too Close to Vehicles
Just like we told drivers, it’s important that motorcyclists not ride too close to the vehicle in front of them. You never know what could happen that might cause them to stop quickly. My parents always taught me to expect the unexpected, and that’s never more true than here. A child running into the roadway, for example, is going to cause that driver to slam on the brakes. Motorcyclists should give themselves plenty of room to stop suddenly, if they have to. It could mean the difference between denting their bumper with your wheel, and denting your head with their trunk.
Motorcyclists Should Always Ride Responsibly
This picture reminds me of those examples our teachers would give us in school. Motorcycles A and B are NOT operating correctly, while motorcycles C, D, and E are riding responsibly. Don’t pop wheelies in traffic, drive too fast, pass vehicles in non-passing zones, and other risky behaviors. Always be in control of your motorcycle and obey the laws of the road. Wait until you’re on a deserted stretch of road to pop those wheelies, if you really can’t resist. But don’t risk the lives of others by doing it in traffic.
Wear the Correct Protective Gear
One of the most important ways motorcyclists can stay safe is to wear the proper protective gear. Without it, there’s literally nothing between you and the road. So, get a good-fitting helmet to protect your head and wear it all the time, even for short jaunts. A well-fit jacket, gloves, jeans or leathers (not shorts), and boots (not flip flops) will give you an added skin, so it’s the clothes that get peeled away, instead of your flesh.