Personal Injury

Keeping Motorcyclists Safe: What Drivers Can Do

Estimated read time: 4 mins

Carrie Tennick, July 09, 2021

In the summer months, we tend to see more motorcyclists out on the roads, taking advantage of the weather.

But with more bikers out, it can increase the risk of accidents – and motorcyclists are already some of the most vulnerable users of our roads. In 2020, the Department for Transport found that bikers made up 19% of all fatalities caused by road accidents. A total of 282 people were killed while out riding.

This may be a drop from the 336 who died in 2019, but with significantly less traffic on the roads due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown last year, this may not be the good news it seems to be on the surface.

As a car driver, you have the power to make life very difficult for motorcyclists – but there’s also plenty you can do to keep them safe.

Here’s what you can do to make the roads safer for bikers.

Check your mirrors

Although you should be continually checking your mirrors as you drive anyway, it’s even more important to keep motorcyclists safe. As they filter through traffic, they could slip in and out of your field of vision, so it’s vital to make sure you’re always checking for them. Don’t change lanes without checking carefully for filtering motorcyclists.

Don’t overtake

It’s rare for a car driver to overtake a motorcyclist – this tends to happen the other way around. But if you find that you’re driving behind a biker who isn’t roaring along at more than the speed limit, don’t give into any temptation to overtake. They’re probably riding at that speed for a reason, so you could put both you and them at risk by trying to get ahead.

Exit junctions slowly

At junctions, you might only be on the lookout for other cars, vans or buses. But these intersections are where accidents involving those on two wheels often happen. So don’t assume you’re cleared to go if you don’t see any larger vehicles – stick to the rules and stop to check for motorcyclists too before you join the flow of traffic.

Give them space

As with cyclists, bikers need a certain amount of space. Although they usually won’t be riding in bicycle lanes or at the side of the road, you should still ensure you’re leaving enough space between you and them. They may swerve suddenly to avoid potholes or other hazards so treat them as you would any other vehicle and give them space.

Listen carefully

Motorcycles sound different to cars. If you listen carefully when you’re about to engage in a manoeuvre, you could hear a biker coming up beside you. This can give you the time you need to react to their position and how fast they’re going, helping you keep yourself and them safe. So make sure your stereo system is turned down before you make a move.

Minimise distractions

This will help to keep you and all other road users safe, not just motorcyclists. Making sure you’ve minimised all distractions in your vehicle will allow you to give the road your proper attention. Motorcycles can be easily missed because they’re so much smaller than other vehicles, which is why you need to be alert.

Open doors with care

If you’re parked on the side of the road and get out, you risk hitting both cyclists and motorcyclists with the door. This is why it’s important to make sure you look before opening your door. Consider using the Dutch Reach. This is when you reach across your body with your left hand to open the driver’s side door. It forces you to turn your body and look behind you, into your blind spot.

Respect the lines

Traffic lights feature advanced stop lines to keep vulnerable road users – cyclists and bikers – safe. Don’t encroach on these spaces when you’re the first vehicle at a light. If the space is being used by a motorcyclist, allow them enough time to move off before you head off – unlike cyclists, bikers could experience trouble with their vehicle that requires you to have allowed them enough room.

Use your signals

As we said previously, intersections can be dangerous. This makes it important to always use your signals before making a turn. Hit your indicator with plenty of time before you manoeuvre, so any approaching bikers see what you’re planning. This is especially important to avoid a collision when you’re planning a right turn and a motorcyclist is planning to overtake you.

As a driver, you can do your part to ensure everyone gets where they’re going in one piece. Being careful and respectful on the roads will go a long way towards ensuring the safety of yourself and others.

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