May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. While a thrilling pastime for many enthusiasts, riding a motorcycle is unfortunately also a dangerous – and often deadly – hobby.
Compared to cars and truck passengers, motorcyclists are especially vulnerable on the road. Statistically speaking, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a crash than other motorists. What’s more, is nearly half of all motorcyclist fatalities in the U.S. involve a collision with another motor vehicle.
Because motorcycles lack the safety features and enclosure of a motor vehicle, other motorists must learn how to share the road with motorcyclists properly. There are several steps drivers can take to drive safely and responsibly around motorcycles.
Obey the four-second rule
The four-second rule is designed to increase the distance between you and another vehicle and give you more reaction time if something unexpected occurs. To follow the rule, you’ll need to choose a stationary object such as a road sign, tree or other landmark. If you are behind a motorcycle, count the number of seconds between when the motorcycle passes the object and you pass the object. If you have at least four seconds, you are driving at a safe distance.
Always check your blind spots
Motorcycles are much smaller and nimbler than cars and trucks. For this reason, it’s easy for a motorcyclist to slip into your blind spots on the road. Be sure to check your mirrors and swivel your head around before switching lanes to ensure the spot is clear.
Allow more space for bikes
Because of their size, many people wrongly assume that a motorcycle does not require as much space on the road as other vehicles. However, motorcyclists need a full lane on the road, just like cars, to maneuver safely. Motorcycle riders have to follow the same traffic laws as all other vehicles on the road, so it’s essential to give them the space they require.
Be mindful at intersections
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly one-third of motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle is the result of the motorist turning into the path of a motorcycle. Drivers must stay vigilant at intersections if they encounter a motorcycle. It’s a good idea to try to make eye contact with a motorcyclist before turning to help ensure they anticipate your next move.
Sharing the road with motorcycles can pose some unique challenges. But by understanding the limitations motorcyclists have and how to drive around them, you can prevent needless accidents and make roads safer for everyone.