A Floridian’s Guide to Safely Sharing the Road With Motorcycles
Most of us, as considerate drivers, are aware that we need to exercise a little extra caution around motorcyclists on the road. In fact, most of us are so aware of this that we tend to get a little nervous when we are near a motorcyclist on the highways or streets—do we need to give him more room? What if he cuts in front of me? What if he is in my blind spot? We often get so nervous that we end up driving less carefully than we would if we did not notice the motorcycle in the first place.
If you ask a driver what makes them so anxious about driving next to motorcycles, most of them probably could not pinpoint their exact fear. For the most part, the most important thing to do as a driver is simply be aware that the motorcycle is there—the motorcyclist will do the rest. Help them stay safe by following these three rules:
Do Not Tailgate Motorcyclists
This is truly the golden rule, and if you can only remember one, this is the one to remember. Motorcycles weigh a fraction of what your car weighs, and can therefore stop in a fraction of the time that you can. Top it off with brake lights that can be tough to see, and a motorcycle could come to a complete stop before you and your car even know they hit their brakes. The rule applies for highway driving as well as while stopped—leave a buffer of space between your bumper and the motorcycle at stoplights.
Look for Motorcyclists, Then Look Again
Whether you are turning, merging, or anything in between, look for motorcycles everywhere. Check your blind spots, check oncoming traffic, and check immediately beside you. Because motorcycles are much smaller than cars, we often do not pick up on their presence when doing our standard scan to see if it is okay to proceed with our next move. It can also be difficult to judge the speed and distance of an oncoming motorcycle, so do not execute a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle unless you are positive that you have time to do so safely.
Do Not Do Anything…Sort Of
If you are already a very safe, conscientious driver, the best thing you can do while driving next to a motorcycle is nothing at all….or rather, nothing out of the ordinary. Motorcyclists simply expect the cars around them to be following the rules of the road, so by doing that—using your turn signal, braking normally for turns and intersections—you are being a safe and predictable driver.
If you found this article helpful, share it with your friends on social media to help inform everyone on safe driving practices around motorcycles, and keep our Sarasota roads safe!