Spring Is Here, so Watch Out for Motorcycles

As the salt slowly dissolves from winterized roads, two-wheel enthusiasts are donning their leathers and heading back out onto the highway.

Perhaps you’ve got experience on a motorcycle and appreciate how difficult it is to ride on the road, or perhaps not. Perhaps you’ve seen what can happen when a novice rider makes a mistake in traffic. Motorcycles are inherently risky in traffic, but in the hands of an experienced rider, they’re safe so long as the people around them know how to behave.

So, how should you behave this spring, as motorcyclists rejoin you on the road?

Share the Road

Motorcyclists don’t have the protection of a car around them. So, do them a favor and think ahead. Things will be better for both of you if your commute ends without an accident.

Even though motorcycles shouldn’t be moving any faster than your average automobile, they accelerate quickly and occupy much less space in your field of view. That can make it feel like they come out of nowhere. So keep your eyes peeled and learn a few good habits for sharing the road with bikes.

Watch your blind spots closely, double-check your mirrors and use extra caution during left turns. If the weather turns suddenly, give riders extra space. And be aware of the dangers motorcyclists face riding at night.

Improving Nighttime Visibility

Part of the responsibility that comes with owning and riding a motorcycle is understanding how to ride safely at night. The smaller profile of a bike is difficult to see in the dark, but if you are a motorcyclist, you can improve your visibility by investing in a few critical components.

The most important of these is, of course, lighting. Make sure you have the proper reflectors and even active lighting on the rear and sides of your bike. Reflective tape on the rims of your wheels adds to your visibility, and you should also make sure to keep your bike clean so the paint is visible, rather than dulled by dirt and grime.

If you use saddlebags, consider the color of your luggage. Many riders choose black, but a brighter color could be safer for you when riding at night. The wide surface area of your bags makes a great place for reflective tape. If you need to add some visibility, here’s your chance.

Lastly, don’t expect your exhaust pipe to get you noticed. It may work in some situations, but it’s not a safety device, and could even get you a ticket if it’s not within regulation.

As for the car driver, don’t drive faster than your headlights can see. If you have an older car, you may need to replace the lights. Sometimes you don’t realize how dim they’ve become until you get new ones. Then don’t forget that you’re not the only one on the road.

Motorcyclists Rely on You

It might require you to be a little more alert, but the truth is most accidents that take place between cars and motorcycles are the car driver’s fault. People just don’t see bikes coming.

Use the four-second rule to keep a good distance between you and a bike. Choose a stationary object and count off four seconds until you pass it. Now, put that amount of distance between you and a motorcycle on the highway.

If you’re a motorcyclist, make sure you are taking precautions to stay safe. Wear your full protective gear at all times, and equip your bike to be visible at night. Ride defensively, and don’t put yourself in difficult situations.

Ultimately, both parties must be responsible for everyone to stay safe on the road. You might not think of it if you’re a motorist with no motorcycle experience, but sharing the road safely with motorcycles requires a little extra consideration. Be a responsible driver. It could save lives.

Scott Huntington is an automotive writer from central Pennsylvania. Check out his work at Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter@SMHuntington.

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