If you are driving a car and find yourself following a motorcycle too close, you might wonder, how many feet do I need to be from this bike to be safe and not hit him at a stop?
Safety on the road is paramount for anyone, rider or driver. For this reason, the road rules are pretty well defined, with most jurisdictions having specific laws in place to protect you, the driver of the vehicle, and the rider of the motorcycle. To avoid accidents, here are a few things you need to know and understand when sharing the road with a motorcycle rider.
When you find yourself following a motorcycle rider, it’s recommended that you maintain at least four seconds distance between your vehicle and the motorcycle. Why four seconds? Here are the reasons.
Motorcycle stops differently
The primary reason why you need the following additional distance is that stopping or slowing a motorcycle is different from a car. The need to slow down or stop a motorcycle rider does not depend on their brakes. They will shift down and ease on the throttle before they eventually step on the brake. Suppose you are the vehicle driver behind the motorcycle. In that case, you will not see the rider’s intentions to stop until he steps on the brake. Now, that is dangerous.
Following a motorcycle closely can end up in an accident. Usually, the rear-ended motorcycle rider is at a disadvantage since it leads to severe injury or death. Not being familiar with the fact mentioned above usually means you will be required to compensate the rider for medical expenses and lost wages.
And then you will be the one to face the legal consequences.
So, you must take the necessary precautions and distance yourself from the motorcycle rider.
Be a Defensive Driver – Count to Four
When you’re following a motorcycle, the best way to manage your distance is picking a landmark (such as a tree or a traffic sign) and counting to four as soon as the motorcycle passes it. That four-second count becomes your distance and the motorcycle’s saving grace.
So that you’re aware, motorcycle riders are advised to observe the following for their own safety:
- Make sure the car or truck’s driver can see you. The less visible you are on the road, the more prone you are to an accident.
- If riding as a group, it is better to do so in a staggered formation.
- When at a traffic signal, make eye contact with the vehicle driver on your left or right; this implies you’re not in their blind spot and are safe from a potential road collision (e.g., being side-swiped).
What to do when driving behind or passing a motorcycle?
When you are driving, you want to make sure that you give motorcycle riders the right amount of space on the road, especially when passing. This makes for a safe, pleasant ride for everyone. Here are some pointers on how to safely pass a motorcycle rider:
- Indicate your intention to change lanes.
- Check your mirrors and turn your head to check your blind spot.
- Move into the passing lane completely.
- Cancel your turn signal.
- Pass the motorcycle rider.
- Wait until you can see them in your rearview mirror.
- Signal your intention to get back over.
- Change lanes.
- Cancel your turn signal.
Now that we know the proper distance when riding behind a motorcycle, let’s talk about what you do when sharing the road with motorcycles. Here are nine things that every driver should know about sharing the road with bikers.
- Check your blind spot: motorcycles are small and difficult to see. Therefore, never rush when changing lanes or turning. Always check your side mirror and turn your head to check your blind spot.
- Be careful when passing: there is nothing illegal about passing, but you should be cautious and observe the proper giving method as suggested above. Make sure you signal your intention and be several car lengths ahead of the motorcycle before returning to your lane.
- Motorcycles react faster than cars: motorcycles respond much faster than cars and respond differently. Be careful when passing a bike and watch out for sudden stops and sudden lane changes.
- Check the weather: bad weather affects visibility. Indeed, it is hard to see a motorcycle in heavy rain, so watch your speed and check for motorcycles before you turn or switch lanes.
- Stay in your lane: Motorcycle riders have a legal right to be on the road as you. Therefore, in the interest of safety, watch the distance between you and the motorcycle. Sharing a lane with a bike while maintaining close proximity is a perfect recipe for disaster.
- Whether there is a motorcycle or not, always use your turn signal to show your intention. This small act can reduce pile-ups.
- Approach intersections with caution: Intersections are dangerous. That’s where most accidents involving cars and motorcycles happen. When you see an intersection, be ready to slow down, then eventually come to a complete halt.
- Be on the lookout for turning motorcycles: When you see a bike with an activated turn signal, increase the following distance; this will give you time to react when the rider does turn.
- Make a second look during left turns: If not carefully executed, left turns are a significant cause of fatal accidents.
Remember that motorcycle riders are entirely exposed. Therefore, they are more vulnerable to accidents than drivers of cars. Make sure you check your blind spot, maintain a safe distance, and always make sure you can see the motorcycle rider before changing lanes or turning.
Remember to use your turn signal when approaching intersections, make sure you’re on the lookout for turning motorcycles, and approach left turns with caution.