Shiny chrome, two wheels, quick zig-zags in and out of traffic and a loud exhaust are what many of us see on a daily basis when a Harley Davidson or Honda motorcycle pass us by on the highway or back country road. Many times their backside is all a driver sees, if they see the motorcyclist at all.
May brings out the motorcycles and collector cars that have not seen the light of day all winter and slushy spring long. Myself and other drivers included need to become re-accustomed to seeing cycles on the road. You are 30 times more likely to be killed in a motorcycle accident than you are in a motor vehicle!
Here’s what to look out for:
- Following Distance – Give the bike in front of you more following room than you would a car. Why? Motorcycles can stop faster than a car. Motorcycles have smaller brake lights than cars. Motorcycles are harder to see.
- Look Left. Look Right. Look Left Again! Cyclists are easy to miss at intersections. We are all used to seeing a bright bulky car or truck stopped at the traffic signal or sign, not a small motorized vehicle with a human riding on top of it.
- Remember to check your blind spot when changing lanes. Don’t get lazy and only use your mirrors or assume since there wasn’t anyone there last time there isn’t now. The time you don’t check could be the time a cycle is there.
- Don’t race a cycle. This one may be a silly point to some of us, but as a driver who has seen countless cars/trucks try to race or tailgate behind a motorcycle I know it is not smart! Cars cannot maneuver like a motorcycle, so don’t get cocky!
Are you the rider?
- Don’t share a lane side by side with another bike. Always stagger your bikes when riding.
- Always use your signals … yes the arm and electronic ones! You may know what an sideways pointing arm means, but most of Americans don’t remember driver’s ed as a high school student.
- Check out the weather forecast before you leave home. It may not be raining now but it could be. Cooler temperatures, slick roads or climbing wind speeds have a great impact on how your bike handles and how you are able to control it on the road.
- Watch your following distance! If you cannot see the driver they cannot see you.
- Wear safety gear…. This may not be your cup of tea I understand but you are putting your pretty/handsome face at risk. Your loved ones will not be happy to see it messed up if you crash.
- ENJOY THE RIDE!
Are you the passenger?
- Don’t be a distraction. Poking the driver, yelling out something into their ear or swaying side to side when you’re not turning will only lead to the higher probability of an accident. You’re putting two lives at risk, not just your own.
- Wear safety gear … even if the driver doesn’t … it doesn’t mean you have to follow their example. Make your own choices!
- Do your best to be a good passenger. Lean into a turn, point out any obstacles or encumbrances along the drive and just be aware of your surroundings.
- ENJOY THE RIDE!