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Motorist Awareness

Safe Driving Tips for Motorists 

About half of all motorcycle crashes involve a collision with another vehicle. In many crashes, the driver never saw the motorcyclist — or didn't see the rider until it was too late. There are many reasons why other drivers do not see motorcyclists.

  • Most car drivers aren't familiar with motorcycles and don't look for them in traffic.

  • Motorcycle riders often wear leathers which are usually dark in color and can easily blend into the background.

  • Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, so they are more difficult to spot in traffic and can be hidden by other vehicles or roadside features.

  • Daytime headlight use does not give motorcycle riders much of an advantage anymore, due to the widespread use of daytime running lights on cars.

  • The smaller size and single headlight on the motorcycle make it more difficult for other drivers to judge a rider's speed and distance. 

The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center encourages everyone — drivers and motorcyclists — to practice these techniques to make motorcycling safer for everyone.

  • When turning left:  Most crashes between vehicles and motorcycles involve turning left at an intersection. If crossing traffic or turning left, look twice for motorcycles before turning.

  • Blind spots:  Motorcycles are easily hidden in traffic. Always take a second look over your shoulder — don’t rely solely on your mirrors.

  • Weather:  Rain and sun glare can make a motorcycle "invisible." Take an extra moment to make sure the way is clear.

  • Signals:  Use turn signals. This allows the rider to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.

  • Larger vehicles: Cars and trucks can conceal a motorcycle traveling behind it. Take an extra moment after a larger vehicle passes before beginning a turn

  • Eye contact:  Motorcyclists make eye contact often to feel confident that other drivers see them. Give a nod back to acknowledge them.

  • Distance: Motorcyclists prefer to use a large space cushion, allowing them more time to react. Do not cut in front of a motorcycle and eliminate the safe following distance.

  • Signals:  Most motorcycle turn signals do not cancel automatically. If a cycle is coming, and the signal is flashing, wait a moment for the cycle to pass.

Additional Safe Driving Tips 

  • Watch aggressively for motorcycles.

  • Search the traffic constantly and expect to see motorcycles.

  • Check blind spots before changing lanes or merging, especially in heavy traffic.

  • Double-check traffic at intersections before turning or pulling out.

  • Motorcycles can easily be hidden in traffic. Look for a helmet above, tires below, or a shadow alongside a vehicle.

  • Anticipate hazards that may confront the motorcyclist and predict how the motorcyclist may react to the situation.

  • Poor road conditions, bad weather, flying debris, oil slicks, and heavy traffic pose high risks for motorcyclists.

  • Allow a minimum two-second "space cushion" when following a motorcycle.

  • Pick out a fixed object ahead of you. When the motorcycle passes the object, count off, "one thousand one, one thousand two...." If you haven't passed the same object after two seconds, your following distance meets the two-second minimum.

  • In poor driving conditions, at higher speeds and at night, use a four or five-second following distance to give the motorcyclist more space.

  • Watch out when turning left.

  • Because motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, it is harder to see them and more difficult to judge their approach speed in traffic.

  • Share the road.

  • Do not drive in the same lane as a motorcycle. It is unsafe and illegal.

  • Treat motorcyclists with the same respect and courtesy you afford to other motorists.

  • Observe and obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.

  • Failure to obey and yield the right-of-way can result in the death or serious injury of a motorcyclist.

  • Stay focused on the driving task. Inattentive driving is a major cause of vehicle-motorcycle crashes.

  • Remove all possible distractions that can interfere with the driver's attention, and remove any objects that may block the driver's view.

  •  Looking Twice May Save A Life!

Safe driving tips for motorists are available in a small, bookmark format perfect for distribution at work, school, or home. These items are free to Minnesota residents and can be ordered here.