9 Tips for Sharing the Road with Motorcycles

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When you’re on the road, driving safely around motorcycles can help prevent a serious accident. Luckily, by following driving protocol, you can help protect any motorcyclists who are nearby.
Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see than other vehicles, and riders frequently weave in and out of lanes If you’re not paying attention, you might not see a motorcycle until it’s right next to you—making it all too easy to collide with them. And, because motorcyclists aren’t secured inside a vehicle, an accident can easily turn deadly.
Whether you’re driving a sports car or a minivan, Jerry has compiled a list of the most important ways you can keep yourself and others safe when you’re driving near a motorcycle. And because you’re as savvy about saving as you are about driving, Jerry will also help you find the best rates on your car insurance.

Check your blind spots frequently

Because they’re so low-profile, it’s easy to miss a motorcycle if it’s driving in your blind spot. In fact, this might be the most common cause for an accident between a motorcycle and another vehicle. Adjust your mirrors every time you get in the car to drive so you’ll be able to see what’s around you while you’re driving.
However, even when your mirrors are set properly, you’ll still have blind spots that you can’t see in your rearview or side mirrors. You need to physically check your blind spot to avoid a dangerous collision with a motorcycle. To prevent collisions, always turn your head to check your blind spots before you turn, merge, or change lanes.
Some vehicles are equipped with a blind spot monitoring system. These systems can be really helpful, but don’t rely on them entirely. You should still physically check your blind spots to make sure you see a motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, or anything else you might have missed on the camera.
Key Takeaway: Always check your blind spots by turning your head. Don’t just rely on your mirrors or even a blind-spot monitoring system if you have one. 
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Be vigilant in bad weather

Inclement weather can pose risks to any driver, but it’s especially dangerous for motorcycles. Not only is the rider’s vision impaired, but wet roads can cause the bike to slide on pavement, and wind can push the bike off the road. 
To stay safe, slow down in windy, wet, or foggy weather. If you do spot a motorcycle nearby, give them plenty of extra space. That way, you’ll be less likely to have an accident if you have to stop suddenly or they lose control of their bike.

Learn the traffic hand signals

Motorcyclists often use hand signals, even if their bike has a turn signal. Knowing these hand signals can make you safer when you’re sharing the road with a motorcycle. Here’s what to watch for:
  • Left turn: The motorcyclist’s left arm will be held out so it’s horizontal to the ground and perpendicular to the bike. Their open palm will be flat.
  • Right turn: The rider’s left arm will be bent in an L-shape with their upper arm perpendicular to their bike and their forearm pointed up with their fingers toward the sky.
  • Stop: This is similar to a right turn but the rider’s forearm will be pointed toward the ground.

Don’t follow too closely

Motorcycles often stop suddenly. Keeping your distance can help prevent a dangerous rear-end collision. 
When you’re driving behind a motorcycle, make sure you always leave 4-5 seconds between you and the bike. To gauge the distance between you and the motorcycle, find a landmark (like a road sign). Once the bike passes the landmark, count the seconds until you pass it. That will give you a good indication of whether or not you’re at a safe driving distance.
If you can’t count to at least 4 or 5 before you pass the landmark, slow down to create more space between you and the motorcycle.

Double-check for motorcycles before you make a left turn

When you make a left turn, you have to cross oncoming traffic. If you turn without looking and collide with a motorcycle, it could be dangerous or even deadly for the rider. That’s why it’s imperative to always check both ways before you turn.
Additionally, never make a left-hand turn from a right-hand traffic lane. Merge into the leftmost lane as you approach your turn. If you turn from a right-hand lane, you could miss a motorcycle in your blind spot and collide as you make the turn.

Slow down if you pass a motorcycle

Have you ever felt a blast of air when you were standing on the side of the road and a car passed by? The same thing can happen when a vehicle passes a motorcycle, and it can actually knock the rider off-balance.
To safely pass a motorcycle, signal to the rider that you’re planning to pass, and let off the accelerator as you’re going around them. If you can’t pass them without speeding up, slow down and keep the appropriate distance between your vehicle and the motorcycle. 
Remember, even if you’re in a hurry, the most important thing is that you and your fellow drivers all arrive at your destination safely.

Avoid distracted driving

It’s always important to stay focused while on the road, but it’s even more crucial to stay focused when motorcycles are nearby because it’s harder to see exactly where they are. If you’re distracted, you might not notice if a motorcycle is following closely behind you or has moved into your blind spot. 
Use these tips to avoid getting distracted when you’re behind the wheel:
  • Keep your eyes on the road at all times
  • Put your phone away until you reach your destination
  • Secure any loose objects so they don’t roll or fall while you’re driving
  • Keep children or pets bucked in securely at all times
  • Avoid driving when you’re tired
Key Takeaway Staying focused and alert can help you stay safe when motorcycles are near. 

Understand what motorcycles are allowed to do

Being aware of a motorcyclist’s rights on the road can help you anticipate what they’ll do. 
  • Motorcyclists have the right to a lane by themselves. Do not try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Even if it looks like there’s plenty of room, riding that closely could create a draft that could knock the rider off-balance.
  • Motorcycles can ride in the HOV lane. These lanes are typically reserved for vehicles carrying more than one person, emergency vehicles, and buses. You might be surprised to learn that motorcycles are also allowed in the HOV lane. 
  • Depending on where you live, motorcyclists may be allowed to drive between lanes. There are some states where it’s against the law for riders to split lanes, but in most places, it’s okay. It’s typically up to the discretion of the Highway Patrol in the area, but they usually won’t pull over a motorcycle rider for lane splitting—as long as it’s done safely. 

Finding the right car insurance

You obviously want to be the best driver you can be. Jerry wants to celebrate your careful driving by helping you save big on your car insurance. 
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It depends on where you live, but in most places, it’s fine as long as the rider does it safely.
Signal your intention to them and slow down as you pass. Accelerating can create a strong wind that can knock the rider off-balance.
To be safe, stay at least 4-5 seconds back when you’re driving behind a motorcycle.

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