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Watch out for motorcycles

It’s not officially spring for another month yet, but as we emerge from the depths of winter and into almost-spring, it’s likely that the number of motorcycles on the road will be increasing soon.

Every year at this time, motorcyclists dust off their helmets and hit the road in the nice weather, and as a result, every year, it seems like there is a spate of accidents involving motorcycles as car drivers adjust to sharing the road again.

Here are some tips culled from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and other online resources:

  • Because there are more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcycle as a car and may unintentionally ignore it. Because of this, in most motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle, the other vehicle is at fault.
  • Because of its narrow profile, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots or masked by roadside objects. Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.
  • Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is, and it may be difficult to judge its speed. If a motorcycle is approaching, wait for it to pass. The few extra seconds of your time is far better than the alternative.
  • Motorcyclists often slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, so the brake light is not activated. Allow more following distance, and expect motorcycles to slow down without visual warning.
  • Motorcyclists may adjust lane position to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles and wind. This is not an invitation for you to share the lane with them or to assume they are being reckless.
  • Motorcyclists may rev the engine to alert other drivers to their presence. Once again, this does not mean they are being reckless or showing off.
  • Turn signals on a motorcycle are usually not self-canceling, so some motorcyclists may forget to turn them off. Make sure a motorcycle’s signal is for real before you act based on it.
  • Use your own turn signals.
  • Don’t expect a motorcyclist to be able to dodge out of the way just because they are operating a smaller vehicle.
  • Allow for more following distance behind a motorcycle. The stopping distance for them is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement can make stopping quickly more difficult.
  • If a motorcyclist is surrounded on three sides by other vehicles, don’t become the fourth.
  • Thanks for being alert to everyone on the roads. Remember — bikers have families, too.