What Automobile Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles
By Beau Wiley
This article will discuss the characteristics of motorcycles in everyday traffic situations. Automobile drivers, also known as Cagers, need to be aware that a motorcyclist will often slow down their motorcycle by downshifting or by simply rolling off the throttle. What this means is that the brake light is not activated. Given this knowledge, we advise that motorists allow more following distance to give motorcyclists and yourself more room to maneuver. Common sense also dictates that you predict a motorcyclist may slow down at intersections without visual warning.
Motorcyclists use both their turn signals and hand motions to announce a lane change or turn. Some motorcyclist forgets to cancel their turn signals. Although newer models have built in self-canceling turn signals, some beginners and experts may still forget to cancel their signal. So, make sure a motorcycle’s signal is valid.
A motorcyclist will often adjust their position within their lane. This is mainly for better visibility, to avoid debris, and to minimize affects of weather and other vehicles. This behavior should not be interpreted as reckless driving. If anything, it will help you, the Cager, be aware of the motorcyclist.
Since a motorcycle is obviously smaller in size than an automobile, although the rider may be quite large, please be aware that because of its small size a motorcycle may seem to moving faster than it actually is. Also because of this small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection, always predict that a motorcycle is closer than it looks. A car pulling left in front of an oncoming motorcyclist causes the number one motorcycle and automobile accident. Please do not do this; it tends to ruin everyone’s day.
A motorcycle’s stopping distance is almost the same as for a car, but road conditions and rider skill level may affect stopping distance. As always, allow for more following distance when behind a motorcycle.
When a motorcyclist is carrying a passenger, this will complicate all of the motorcyclists riding responsibilities. Stopping distance, motorcycle handling, maneuverability and balance are all affected by the passenger. When you see two on a motorcycle, give the motorcyclist plenty of room.
Keeping a safe following distance when following motorcyclists cannot be stressed enough. From the motorcyclist ability to slow with using the brake, to having a passenger, to having smaller mirrors making it harder to judge the distance of the car following them. We strongly recommend keeping a three or four second following distance and space cushion when following a motorcyclist.
As the weather turns warmer, start to look for motorcyclists, especially when checking traffic at intersections. There are a lot more trucks and cars than motorcycles on the highways. Many motorcyclists do not recognize a motorcycle. They often choose to ignore it. Whether unintentionally or through stupidity because the Cager is busy applying their makeup or talking on their cell phone while drinking their Starbucks coffee all while trying to drive. Please stop and be a responsible citizen and drive your car when you are moving. There will be plenty of time later in the day to use your cell and drink your coffee. Hopefully these tips will keep me alive by making you more aware of the characteristics of a motorcycle in traffic.
Finally, do not think of a motorcycle as a machine; we motorcyclists are people so treat us with the respect with which we are due.
Contributing author to the Victory Custom shop -- Cycle Solutions http://www.CycleSolutions.net
and the Victory Kingpin Cruiser Enthusiast site http://www.KingpinCruisers.net
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