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When the weather warms up in spring, more and more motorcyclists bring their bikes out. Riders are eager to get back on the road but unfortunately, we soon begin to see a flurry of local news stories about fatal collisions between motorcycles and vehicles. This is a sign that both parties should do a better job of sharing the road.

Motorcycles tend to be more vulnerable rides than motor vehicles, so much of the onus to share the road falls on car and truck drivers. As May marks Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, consider the following tips to help make the roads safer for everyone.

1. Allow Extra Time for Left Turns

motorcycle and motor vehicle collision The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 44 percent of fatal two-vehicle crashes in 2013 involved a car turning left as a motorcycle traveled straight. In response, drivers should wait a few more seconds before making a left turn to make sure a motorcycle is not coming through the intersection.

The smaller size of motorcycles can make them appear farther away than they actually are. As a result, drivers are advised to look to the front, rear and sides before making the turn. You may also want to stick your head out the window to be sure a motorcycle has not approached your blind spot.

2. Give Motorcycles a Full Lane

As you share the roads with motorcycles, you may notice that the riders swerve side to side in the same lane. This move is intentional and often needed to avoid hazards like potholes and uneven pavement.

In response, you should give a motorcycle the same amount of space you would give a car – maybe even a little bit more! A biker needs room to move side to side when in motion and should not have to maneuver around another vehicle.

3. Give the Motorcycle More Distance

If you’re driving behind a motorcycle, make sure to add an extra second or two of distance. Just how much should you give? Extend the usual two to three second gap to four or more for a motorcycle.

Motorcycles take more time to stop, which can increase in bad weather. Furthermore, because motorcyclists have greater fall and injury risks without the safety features of a vehicle, staying a few more seconds behind gives them space in case a hazard causes the rider to lose control.

4. Make Your Driving Intentions Clear to Motorcyclists

When you’re at an intersection or changing lanes, signal your maneuver well in advance. Keeping in mind the greater stopping distance motorcycles need, they also have a harder time making sudden moves. Changing directions or slowing down at the drop of a hat can be more dangerous for them.

Additionally, acknowledge riders at an intersection before turning. It’s a good idea to make eye contact first and understand who has the right-of-way before making any driving maneuver.

5. Be Wary of a Motorcycle’s Turn Signal

While motorcycles are equipped with turn signals, most are not self-canceling like our cars. Thus, a rider who has to manually turn it off may wait for the right and safest opportunity to do so.

As a result, cars sharing the road with motorcycles should not base their driving decisions off the turn signal. Rather, watch and wait for the motorcyclist to turn, pull over or change lanes before advancing your vehicle.

6. Be Careful as You Pass

Motorcycles have no enclosure and many lack a windscreen, so drivers should allow riders more distance when passing. A strong blast of air could potentially knock an unsuspecting rider over, which can turn into a serious accident. So, pass as you would another car – neither too close or too fast.

7. Be Cautious at Night

It’s easy to misjudge a motorcycle’s distance at night for several factors. These bikes only have a single tail light and headlight and not every rider wears reflective gear. In response, drivers should be extra alert when the sun goes down. Additionally, give a motorcycle even more distance when you’re traveling next to or behind a rider.

As a motorcyclist, have you been hit by a passing car or truck? When serious injury results, it’s especially important to pursue a claim and be fairly compensated. If you’re dealing with a difficult insurance company, bring your claim to Trantolo & Trantolo. Many of our staff members ride, understand the vehicle mechanics and can answer any legal questions you may have. To learn more, contact our motorcycle lawyers today.