Sharing the road begins with the understanding that every motorist has the same rights and responsibilities that you do. Whether it be a motorcyclist, bicyclist, pedestrian, or tractor, we all have a duty to operate our vehicles safely.
According to the NHTSA, 5,014 motorcyclists died in 2019. These deaths accounted for 14% of traffic fatalities. 55% of these deaths involved collisions with other motor vehicles. As drivers of vehicles like cars, trucks, and vans, we have to not only responsibly share the road, but also take into consideration the safety of motorcycle riders.
Many accidents that involve motorcycles and automobiles are caused by the automobile driver not being aware of the motorcyclist. In recent years, there has been an increase in motorcycles on the road. We need to do our part in keeping everyone safe while driving. Here are some things to keep in mind when driving:
- Always look twice for motorcyclists: Especially when crossing lanes of traffic, take the time to look a second time to make sure you are clear to cross.
- Be extra careful when passing: Make sure you’re several car lengths ahead before returning to your lane.
- Stay in your lane: Motorcyclists are entitled to their own traffic lane just like you.
- Signal your turn sooner than normal: Inform motorcyclists behind you that you are turning and give them extra time to prepare to slow down.
- Remember that a motorcyclists reaction time is quicker: Increase the space between you and the motorcycle by at least 1 extra car length.
- Don’t honk or use high beams: Loud, sudden noises or bright lights can be startling to a bicyclist. With barely any protection against a moving vehicle, startling or blinding them can be very dangerous.
With more and more people opting to ride to work instead of drive, it’s important that we stay aware and considerate of bikers to keep our roads safe. Some drivers may be confused about how to share the road safely with bicycle riders. Luckily, we have a few tips that you can follow to effectively and safely share the roadways.
- Use caution when turning: Cyclists ride on the right side of the road, check your mirrors and blind spots before turning to avoid any accidents.
- Pass slowly: Make extra room when passing cyclists and reduce your speed.
- Stay out of bike lanes: Bike lanes are designated for bicyclists so it’s important to remember to never drive, park, or maneuver through a bike lane.
- Keep an eye out: It can be easy, especially on windy days, for a cyclist to swerve or fall over. Watch out for any quick movements and give them plenty of space.
- Give them the right of way: It’s always safer to allow a cyclist to cross by yielding and letting them know they are safe to cross.
Slow Moving Vehicles
During harvest season, farm crews are moving large farm equipment every day to harvest their products. Farm machinery can vary in size and speed, so it’s important to be cautious when driving alongside them and passing them.
Keep in mind that some farm equipment drivers have limited visibility when on the road, so pass them with caution. Some tips for safely sharing the road with large, slow-moving vehicles include:
- Stay back: Put extra space between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
- Watch for oncoming vehicles: Make sure that when you decide to pass, ensure that there is no one coming in the opposite direction.
- Make yourself known: When passing a large vehicle and you’re not sure if the driver knows you’re there, consider honking briefly to let them know you are passing.
- Be patient and observant: It can be difficult for large vehicles like combines to turn, slow down when driving behind them, and watch for turning signals.