8 Ways Drivers Can Help Motorcyclists Stay Safe on the Road

Two riders on a motorcycle on a the highway, with other cars around them in normal traffic.

Summer is here, and the warm weather means more outdoor activities for everyone – including motorists and motorcyclists.

There are more than 8 million motorcycles registered in the United States, including plenty right here on the South Shore.

New England weather makes it impractical to ride a motorcycle for many months of the year.

However, the nicer weather of summer and early fall bring about a big increase in the number of motorcyclists on local roads – which increases the risk of accidents.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), recent statistics show that the rate of motorcycle fatalities is almost four times higher than the rate of other motor vehicle fatalities.

When it comes to safety, it’s up to all drivers to share the road: both motorcyclists and other motor vehicle drivers must work together to drive safely and responsibly.

Below, you can find some tips for motorists that will help you safely share the road with motorcyclists, reducing the risk of accidents.

Avoid distracted driving

Distractions could mean the difference between seeing a motorcyclist or not. Be especially vigilant when changing lanes! Avoid using cell phones while driving whenever possible to keep all of your focus on the road.

Look twice

Due to their smaller size, motorcycles can be hard to see. Always remember: look twice, save a life. Most crashes with motorcyclists occur when vehicle drivers are turning left, like at an intersection. When turning and changing lanes, look twice!

Check all mirrors and blind spots

Always assume motorcyclists are closer than they appear. Their speed and distance are difficult for drivers to judge. Check your blind spots more than once before turning or changing lanes.

Drive alert

Don’t rely on just your ears. While it’s true that some motorcycles are loud, you can’t always hear them coming in all directions.

Keep your distance

Many motorcyclists slow down by downshifting, which won’t activate the brake lights. Allow yourself extra space when following a motorcycle.

Know their signals

Some motorcyclists use hand signals, similar to those used by bicyclists. Familiarize yourself with right turn, left turn, and slow/stop signals.

Use caution at intersections

Slow down when going through intersections. One of the leading causes of collisions with vehicles is failing to notice the presence of a motorcycle.

Observe speed limits and use caution

Speed limits aren’t just a suggestion – they’re put in place to make travel as safe as possible.

Always observe speed limits and be sure to make allowances for hazardous weather or road conditions. In addition, take care when passing a motorcycle, as increasing your speed can create a sudden burst of wind that may cause a motorcyclist to lose stability.

This post was written by our Trauma Program Injury Prevention Team.

Learn more about our Injury Prevention Program.