Safety Information

Motorist Awareness (Feb 2009 newsletter)

by Dick Stoops

Soon spring will be here and we will be enjoying a new riding season. Being motorists, as well as motorcyclists, we need to be on the look-out for motorcycles which will be sharing the roadways. When driving our cars and trucks we need to remember that a motorcycle is sometimes difficult to see, especially when we are looking out for other cars and trucks. The motorcycle's smaller size and slim profile make it easy to ignore when looking for other traffic. Many accidents occur when the motorcycle and a car or truck collide. Usually the driver of the larger vehicle claims to have never seen the motorcycle.

On the roadway, accidents can be caused by pulling out in front of, changing lanes and cutting the motorcycle off, or braking suddenly. We need to remember that the motorcycle sharing the road with us has the same privileges as any other vehicle and must be extended the same respect and courtesy that we would show any other vehicle. Be aware and alert at intersections, especially when waiting to make a left turn. A motorcycle may be tucked in close behind the car you are waiting on and out of your line of sight. Also, cars may not be present, but there may be a motorcycle that you don't see.

Signal to make your intentions known even if there are no cars in front of or behind you. Let the motorcycle rider know what you are going to do so he has time and space to react. Allow plenty of space between you and the motorcycle you are following because the rider may need to react to a situation that normally would not affect your car. Even a slight contact with a curb or another vehicle can have a devastating effect on the motorcycle. Also, realize that the motorcyclist must change positions on the road to avoid road conditions or objects in the roadway. A car may not be affected by these situations, but again, a motorcycle needs time and space to react.

As motorcyclists we need to do our part. We must make ourselves as visible as possible to other traffic. Don't tailgate. The vehicle in front of you obscures your forward vision and may need to stop, or swerve to avoid something. Don't tuck in closely to other vehicles at intersections. The guy in the opposing lane waiting to make a left turn may be in a hurry and start his turn right after the car you are following clears the intersection. Use caution around larger vehicles. A motorist may not be aware of your presence if you are hidden behind a truck, or large SUV.

With awareness and caution, motorists and motorcycles can co-exist, but we all have to do our part.