According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) motorcyclist deaths are 28 times more frequent than fatalities in other vehicles. And, motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle continue to account for almost half of all motorcyclist fatalities in the United States.
To raise awareness, we must start by recognizing that there are many dangerous driving occurrences that can lead to unfortunate consequences for motorcyclists and car or truck motorists. To reduce these incidents, here are some tips that you and your fleet can leverage to safely share the road with our two and three-wheeler friends.
TIP 1: Use Proper Scanning Techniques
Whether drivers are in a parking lot, on a rural street or cruising down a busy highway, they must always be aware of their surroundings and fellow drivers, which is a bit easier when the counterpart is a truck or standard sized vehicle. However, motorcycles present a challenge for drivers because of their smaller size, which hinders their visibility by other motorists.
Humans are programmed to see only what they expect to see, which is a standard to large size vehicle. As a result, drivers fail to spot a motorcycle fast enough due to its small stature and its speed.
To avoid missing these crucial and potential life-changing details, drivers should:
- Look farther ahead
- Regularly scan mirrors so they have more time to see and identify who and what is around them
These actions help our brains process new information about what’s in our field of vision and react. Not to mention, whether it’s motorcycle season or not, the scanning method should be used every time you’re behind the wheel as it’s a crucial driving safety technique.
TIP 2: Eliminate Blind Spots
A motorcycle’s small profile can easily disappear in a driver’s blind spot. To avoid this problem—eliminate your blind spots. There is no reason to have them. Typically, everyone does a good job of properly adjusting the rearview mirror but, in most cases, the side-view mirrors, which are designed to see objects to the side of the vehicle, are adjusted too far inward. When this is the case, you end up looking at the vehicle itself, rather than at the road and other vehicles, creating unnecessary blind spots.
TIP 3: Widen Your Safety Zone
Treat motorcycles the same as four-wheel vehicles when it comes to the safety zone. The importance of building space and increasing available reaction time between a car or truck and a motorcycle can be the difference between life and death. A safety zone of at least two seconds is always recommended—and in this case, it might need to be even a little larger due to their maneuvering, gear shifting and braking habits, and the fact that they are extremely vulnerable.
To gauge an adequate amount of space while driving on the highway, choose a stationary object on the side of the road. As the vehicle in front of you passes that object, count: “one one-thousand, two one-thousand.” If you pass that selected object before finishing saying “two one-thousand” the safety zone created is too small.
TIP 4: Signal Early
When drivers are making a turn at a light, changing lanes, or pulling off the road, unfortunately, a lot of times they fail to signal their intentions. According to a study by the University of Southern California, a leading contributor of motorcycle crashes is the failure of drivers to provide timely turn signal notifications. A high percentage of those crashes occur when other drivers provide less than two seconds notice of a directional change.
Drivers should provide other drivers and motorcyclists with enough time to react to directional changes, so they can adjust their safety zone and coordinate their own maneuvers appropriately. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in most states, drivers must activate turn signals at least 100 feet before making a turn to allow an appropriate “warning.”
TIP 5: Look Twice at Intersections
Intersections are the most dangerous situations for motorcyclists when car or truck drivers are making left-hand turn. Based on the data from the NHTSA’s crash rates report, this type of collision accounts for more than 30 percent of all crashes involving a motorcycle. It occurs because of how our brains process information, making it difficult for a driver’s eyes to perceive the motorcyclist’s proximity at the intersection and properly react even if its directly in his/her field of vision. By looking left, right and left again you'll be able to see the motorcycle approaching and can better determine whether or not you should wait to allow the motorcycle to pass before turning to assure you can do so safely.
The safety of motorcyclists is everyone’s obligation and we all must take proactive measures to maintain the safety of everyone with which we share the road. By educating your fleets on these common dangers and our “road sharing” techniques, we’ll be able to create safer drivers and ensure everyone gets from point A to point B safely, whether they’re on two wheels or four.