The close of summer means we will be seeing fewer and fewer motorcycles on the road through the end of the year. However, that is not to say every bike will go dormant. Some riders continue to ride until the weather makes it impossible and, of course, even those who do put their bikes away for the winter will bring them out next spring. Bikers everywhere implore car and truck drivers to do them a special favour: keep an eye out for them at all times when driving.
Most accidents between cars and bikes can be avoided if both car drivers and motorcycle riders take the time to be cognisant of one another. THINK! BIKE, an education campaign sponsored by the government, offers important tips for both groups of drivers intended to keep bikers safe. According to Leeds Harley-Davidson’s Used Bike manager, Dale Gillespie, the tips are important enough that every driver should know them.
“Cars and motorcycles legally share the roads here in the UK,” he said. “It is imperative, especially for the safety of bikers, that everyone take the time and make the effort to share the road safely by following the law and utilising the common sense tips from THINK! BIKE.”
Because motorcycle riders are significantly more vulnerable in an accident, they stand to be at the losing end more often than not. Here are five reasons you should watch out for them if you are car driver:
1. They Are Harder to See
Other cars are relatively easy to see under ordinary driving conditions. The same is not true for bikes. Not only are motorcycles smaller and narrower in profile, but they are also easily missed in congested traffic due to our eyes being focused on bigger objects. It takes a concerted effort among car drivers to recognise bikes at the same rate other cars or recognised.
2. Darkness Makes Seeing Harder
We are quickly approaching that time of year when darkness sets in earlier in the evening. Unfortunately, darkness makes motorcycles even harder to see. Drivers who are not making an effort to pay close attention to their surroundings can easily confuse the headlamp of a motorcycle with that of a car, leading to a disastrous accident. Car drivers should look for single headlamps and reflective clothing that indicate a motorcycle nearby.
3. Passing on Both Sides
On roads with multiple lanes, motorcycles can pass cars on either side. This can be especially treacherous in congested traffic. A driver may look in the rear view mirror a fraction of a second before a biker decides to pass, causing him/her to believe the motorcycle is safely behind. A second later, the biker can begin an overtaking manoeuvre on either side of the car. A car driver not paying attention may not know the bike is alongside until it is too late.
4. Cars Intimidate Motorcycle Riders
An experienced motorcycle rider will likely not be intimidated in traffic. The same cannot be said for new riders. It takes quite a while to get used to riding a motorcycle, the same way it probably took you to get used to driving a car. In the interim, a new motorcycle rider could make unwise decisions as a result of intimidation. Always assume motorcycle riders you encounter are new and easily intimidated. This more cautious approach is a safer approach even among riders with plenty of experience.
5. Motorcycles Are Difficult to Stop
Despite their small size compared to cars, motorcycles are difficult to stop at speeds above 30 mph. Most motorcycles are equipped with two disc brakes designed to be applied uniformly whenever the brake handle/foot pedal is applied. However, there are always balance issues to think about. A biker who has to stop quickly in order to avoid an accident may very well dump the bike or flip it over due to loss of balance. The car driver, on the other hand, can stop more easily without creating any further problems.
All Should Work Together
According to Dale Gillespie, car drivers watching out for bikers is not about bikers claiming to be victims or blaming car drivers for every accident. Rather, it is a matter of looking at the situation practically. Motorcycle riders can and should follow the law, show courtesy to car drivers, and drive in a way that is both defensive and patient. Yet there are some inherent weaknesses to motorcycles that make them prime targets for accidents with cars.
If car drivers are willing to do their part to help avoid accidents, crashes between cars and bikes can be reduced. It should be everyone’s desire that both drivers and riders work together to reduce accidents rather than blaming one another for the crashes that do occur. Everyone being mindful of others and obeying the law is the best way to keep the roads safe for all sorts of vehicles and their operators.