First Responders Urge Motorists to Watch for Motorcyclists

June 3, 2020

Photo by Mechanicsville VFD.

Courtesy of the Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department, and Maryland Vehicle Administration – Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway. But in crashes, a motorcyclist is six times more likely to be hurt than a car driver. Motorcycles are smaller than cars and trucks, and it can be harder to judge the speed and distance of an oncoming motorcycle.

Yield right of way to an oncoming motorcycle when turning left. Violating a motorcyclist’s right of way can result in a citation with significant penalties if you cause a serious injury. Drivers are at fault in just over half of car crashes with motorcycles.

Look twice before changing lanes or merging into traffic. Use your mirrors and look over your shoulder to be sure it is safe before merging or changing lanes. Motorcycles can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look due to their smaller size.

Do not share a lane with a motorcycle. Motorcyclists often adjust their position in the traffic lane to avoid road hazards like potholes or oil spills, because of wind, and to be seen by other road users. Motorcyclists are entitled to use the entire lane.

Do not tailgate or driver too close to a motorcycle. Allow at least three- to four-second following distance between your vehicle and the motorcycle in front of you. Motorcycles may need to slow for road hazards like gravel, wet road or railroad crossings that don’t affect cars the same way. Motorcyclists often reduce speed by downshifting or merely running off the throttle, which do not activate the brake light. So, be alert and leave plenty of space around motorcycles.

Allow plenty of space between your vehicle and the motorcycle when passing. Wind gusts and drafts from a passing vehicle can affect a motorcycle. After passing a rider, make sure you can see the motorcycle’s headlight in your rearview mirror before moving back into the lane. If you are being passed by a motorcycle, simply maintain your speed and allow the motorcyclist to complete their passing.

Use care when driving near a group of motorcyclists. Motorcyclists participate in organized rides which can involve many motorcycles. Driving around these groups requires communication and patience. If you need to change lanes or reach an exit, signal your intention early and wait for the riders in the group to create a gap for you. Do not merge in between groups or riders unless there is sufficient space to do so. If it is a small group, it may be easier to slow and let the group pass before making a lane change.

~From the Maryland Driver’s Manual @

Photo by Mechanicsville VFD.