Unfortunately, accidents between motorcycles and full-sized vehicles happen more often than they should. Even with loud motorcycles, drivers on the highway may not notice a motorcycle next to them until it is too late. Because these types of accidents are often fatal for the rider, all motorcyclists should know how to avoid riding in blind spots and all drivers should know to check theirs.
How can I avoid riding in a blind spot?
The number one thing motorcyclists can do to stay safe while riding is to avoid blind spots. These areas are extremely dangerous because many drivers do not turn their heads before changing lanes or making a turn. Instead, they rely solely on their mirrors and may not notice nearby riders.
The first thing a rider can do to avoid riding in blind spots is figuring out where they are. The exact locations of a car’s blind spots depend on the size of the vehicle and the number of mirrors it has.
Consider an average-sized vehicle traveling in the middle of a three lane highway. With normal vision and functioning mirrors, that driver can see:
- The area directly in front of the car
- The area directly behind the car
- The area in adjacent lanes behind the rear of the car, closest to the lane their car is traveling in
That driver cannot see:
- The area right next to the car
- The area in adjacent lanes behind the rear of the car, furthest from the lane their car is traveling in.
Blind spots for larger vehicles, such as semi-trucks, can be dozens or hundreds of feet long.
Riders can avoid accidents by following these tips:
- Never ride next to another vehicle. Always stay slightly ahead of the car or well behind it, even if you are in another lane.
- Look for the driver’s face in his/her side mirror. If you cannot see his/her face, s/he cannot see you.
- Make eye contact with the driver.
- Never move into another driver’s blind spot while you are changing lanes.
- Use turn signals (either electronic or hand signals) when changing lanes or turning.
- Remember to check your own blind spots and, if necessary, install additional mirrors on your motorcycle.
- Wear bright or reflective clothing.
- Always be prepared for evasive actions.
Tips for Drivers to Avoid Accidents with Motorcycles
The number one thing that drivers can do to avoid crashing into a motorcyclist is to check their blind spots. Do not rely solely on your rearview and side mirrors. Instead, turn your head to check your blind spot before changing lanes or making a turn in a congested area.
Additionally, drivers should leave extra space between their car and any motorcyclists. After parallel parking, but before opening the car door, make sure to check for motorcyclists in the road. Never tailgate or cut off a rider.
Remember, driving a motorcycle requires a lot of skill in handling. Certain things that may only be a minor inconvenience for you, such as bad weather conditions, potholes, or railroad crossings, may make it difficult for a motorcyclist to maintain control over his/her bike. Be aware of these difficulties and allow extra space and time for motorcyclists on the road.
Remember, even a minor fender bender or bump from behind can be fatal for a motorcyclist. Whenever possible, make eye contact with motorcyclists and always check your blind spots. It may save a life.