8 things I wish every car driver knew about motorcycles
This article is really aimed at car drivers so forward it onto drivers that you know.
When I tell people that I ride motorcycles I get a range of reactions. Anything from a blank stare to “that sounds great” to “you must be crazy” to “another temporary Australian” (that’s what my father used to say!). Often people find it necessary to tell me about their friend or someone they know who knows someone who has had a bad accident or even died (even if it happened 25 years ago). Then of course, there are the people that tell me how irritated they are by motorbikes lane splitting or being too noisy!
Seems to be that non-riders treat all bikers the same. They think we’re all “bikies”, irresponsible or some sort of hooligan and they need to lock up their daughters! This is the minority of us – the description doesn’t fit me nor any rider that I know.
The truth is that most riders just love riding and the sense of freedom that riding brings.
Here’s 8 things that I wish all car drivers knew about motorcyclists
1 Most motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle and from what I have read it seems that two vehicle crashes are usually not the riders fault. SMIDSY is common – “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”. When a motorbike hits a car guess who usually comes off second best! What I’d like is for car drivers to be more active in looking out for motorcyclists. As a car driver, why not start counting how many bikes you see on the road for a week or two. This will help you start to look out for us.
2 Motorcycles are hard to see (compared to cars) and this is especially true at intersections. Most motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle happen at intersections. What I’d like car drivers to do is be aware of bikes especially at intersections. Take your time and look twice for bikes at intersections.
3 Motorcycles accelerate faster than cars. When we take off faster than you (in a car) it is not an invitation for a drag race to the next light. By accelerating fast, we’re not racing you we are simply trying to get some distance between you and us (more distance is safer).
4 Good riders shift their position in the lane so they can see more clearly and avoid pot holes or debris on the road. Moving around within the lane is not an invitation to the car behind to try and overtake or squeeze through a gap.
5 Don’t tailgate a motorcycle. Driving too close creates a dangerous situation so leave a 3 second gap between me and you (bikes should do the same). If a car runs into the back of another car it might cause some damage. When a car runs into the back of a motorcycle, it could be fatal. Leave even more room in wet weather.
6 Distracted rivers kill motorcyclists – hang up and drive! Too many car drivers treat their car as an entertainment system with wheels. It only takes a second or two of distraction to change someone’s life forever. If you must be on the phone in the car, install a phone kit or stop to make the call.
7 Remember that all riders underneath the gear are people. They are somebody’s son or daughter, father, mother, brother and friend. In fact, in my experience, motorcyclists are some of the friendliest and nicest people you’ll ever meet. Next time you see a biker filling up at a petrol station, why not say Hi – you might be surprised.
8 The last thing I’d like car drivers to remember is that any crash involving a motorbike could have drastic and severe consequences. A small bingle in a car might be a fatality on a bike.
Motorcyclists need to take responsibility for their own safety on the road. They need to ride to the conditions and to their skill level. They need to get trained and experienced in Roadcraft and handling their bike. They need to be alert and focused (and unimpaired by drugs and alcohol). But to be safe on the road, we (motorcyclists) need the help of car drivers to stay safe. By doing these few things, we can all be safer and enjoy the journey.