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Things Car and Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles


You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker: motorcycle_awareness_month

“Look Twice.  Save A Life. Motorcycles Are Everywhere.”

It’s more than a slogan.  It’s advice that will save lives. 


For the most part, motorcycle riders take their safety seriously; they understand the risks. (Think about another bumper sticker we saw: “Watch for Motorcycles.  There are no fender-benders”)


But if you don’t ride, there are things you might not know about motorcycles. So we thought as we head into the warm months when there are more motorcycles on the road, we’d share “Things Car and Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles.” (Our thanks to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for this info.)


  • Motorcycles are small.  That means:


A motorcycle is easier to miss on the highway.  That’s the reason for the advice “Look Twice.” 


A motorcycle may look farther away than it is. Always assume a motorcycle is closer than it looks.


It can be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. It may seem to be moving faster than it really is, but don’t assume all motorcyclists are speed demons.


A motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots (door/roof pillars) or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc). Take an extra moment to thoroughly check traffic, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.


  • Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say 3 or 4 seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.


  • Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling so some riders, (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change.


  • Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them. (By the way, it’s dangerous AND illegal to share a lane with a motorcycle!)


  • Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.


  • Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because it can’t always stop “on a dime.” 


  • When a motorcycle is in motion, don’t think of it as motorcycle; think of it as a person.


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