Sharing the Road with Motorcycles
February 19, 2009
Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars, and they have high performance capabilities. For these and other reasons, motorcycles are more likely than cars to be in crashes. And when motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they’re more likely to be injured or killed. Per mile traveled, the number of deaths on motorcycles is about 26 times the number in cars. A rider who isn’t wearing a helmet is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury, compared with a helmeted rider.
The actions of motorcyclists can affect motor vehicle operators in numerous ways. When you follow a motorcycle, remember that motorcycles have the ability of stopping much more quickly than other vehicles in emergencies. Following too closely endangers your life and that of the motorcyclist.
In addition to maintaining a safe following distance from motorcyclists in front of you, check your rearview mirror and be aware of motorcyclists following you. When a motorcyclist is following you, be especially careful not to make any sudden stops.
Weather and road conditions present greater problems to the motorcyclist than to the driver of a motor vehicle. A puddle may hide a hole that jolts your car; the same hidden hole can throw a motorcycle out of control. When it rains, reduced traction makes it difficult for a motorcyclist to balance. It is more difficult for the motorcyclist to stay in control on slippery roads. Wet or icy roads impair a motorcyclist’s ability to brake and maneuver. Wind gusts can move a motorcycle across an entire lane. Gravel roads decrease traction and may cause a rider to slow down or brake where a car would not. Allow extra space for motorcycles in all adverse conditions. Use extra care when you are following a motorcyclist that is crossing railroad tracks. Railroad tracks present a special problem for motorcyclists, because motorcycle tires can get caught in the grooves of the crossing, causing the rider to lose her or his balance.
When you are following a motorcycle that is carrying a passenger, use extra caution. Passengers change the way the motorcyclist should operate. A motorcyclist who is inexperienced in transporting a passenger may have extra difficulties with balancing and controlling the motorcycle.
Learn more about motorcycle safety and sharing the road with motorcycles.