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Motorcycle Safety: Make Sure Motorists See You On The Road

Updated on August 17, 2009

Riding a Motorcycle

When riding a motorcycle, it all boils down to you an the road. There are millions of miles of road, whether it be a 1-lane dirt road or a 12-lane highway, you want to realize that safety on a motorcycle is very important. When you ride, the surface conditions, traffic, and the weather can vary, and you have to be aware of a lot of things at all times. You can't daydream when riding a motorcycle because things happen fast and you have to be prepared.

Basic motorcycle safety in traffic:

  1. Search around you for potential hazards.
  2. Evaluate any possible hazards. (cars, railroad tracks, etc.)
  3. Execute proper action to avoid the hazard.

Increase Your Visibility to Others

When riding a motorcycle, you want to do your best to make sure that you make yourself as visible as possible. The most common excuse from motorists is, "I just didn't see him." Of course this is after the other motorist has already hit a motorcyclist. It's the sad truth, but people just don't watch when they're driving, so it's up to you to make sure that you attract their attention.

Wear bright clothing, especially at night. Wear reflective motorcycle gear. It's very important that the driver behind you sees your back, so make sure that you make it stand out.

You want to always signal your intentions when changing lanes or making a turn. Make sure that everyone around you know what you're about to do. Sometimes it helps to turn your signals on and use hand signals at the same time. Just remember to cancel your signals, once you've completed the move.

Don't be shy about using your horn just to let other drivers know that you're on the road too.

Make sure to position your bike where it can be seen when at stop signs and red lights. You don't want to put yourself behind a large truck or ride in a blind spot if you can avoid it. Make yourself seen!

Be Alert When Riding a Motorcycle

When riding on a motorcycle in traffic, you want to be alert so that you can see everything around you. You want to use your eyes effectively, keeping them moving at all times. You don't want to get stuck gawking at the '67 Mustang, as you may not see the SUV moving into your lane right at you. You never want to keep your eyes glued in one direction or at one thing, as you may be ignoring another situation that could affect you.

You want to look ahead, to the side, in your mirrors, and over your shoulders. You want to look everywhere at all times.

Never let your eyes fix on one object for more than two seconds. Keep looking around. When you're riding in town, at speeds under 40mph, always keep a two second gap between you and the cars in front of you. For example, when the driver in front of you goes by a telephone line, count one-thousand-two, and you should pass the pole.

When you're on the open road, with higher speed,s, you should adjust your gap to three or four seconds, depending on your speed. Use the same reference point technique to determine how many seconds you are behind the car in front of you.


You may or may not realize it, but the majority of accidents involving a collision between a motorcycle and a car happen at intersections. The most frequent accident being that the car is turning left in front of the motorcycle.

Any intersection s potentially hazardous, whether it has stoplights, stop signs, or is unmarked. You wantt o always check traffic on your left and right sides, as well as the traffic behind you to make sure that no one is going to run up behind you.

Passing Other Vehicles

The technique for passing another vehicle is the same whether you're riding a motorcycle or driving a car. First, make sure you are two or more seconds behind the car you want to pass and have yourself positioned so that you're in the left-hand side of the lane. At this point, you have to check the oncoming traffic and the road to make sure that you have enough distance to pass safely. Don't think about passing if a corner is coming up.

If you have room to make the pass, look in your mirrors, turn the signal on, and look over your shoulder. Checking with your head is always essential because someone may have just pulled into your blind spot with the intent of overtaking you. Always remember the head check.

If everything is clear, move to the left and pass the vehicle. Don't crowd close to the vehicle you're passing. You should more or less be in the center of the lane you are passing in. Get by the vehicle as quickly as possible without exceeding the speeding limit.

Riding at Night

There many be more than one occasion where you'll have to ride your motorcycle at night or at dusk. Any time that you have a slight visual impairment, whether it be the sun setting, rain, clouds, or night, it's advised that you slow down, especially on curvy roads.

Use your headlights and those from other motorists so that you can keep an eye on the road surface. It is much more difficult at night to see a patch of sand or something lying in the road.

You want to keep the distance between you and the car in front of you, a sit is very important. You want to give yourself room to react. Make sure that you give all other motorists plenty of room.

It's advised that you wear a clear faceshield or clear goggles. If your goggles or facesheild has scratches, any light refraction may confuse you. Two headlights may look like four.

Be alert and watchful.


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    • PA Injury Lawyers profile image

      PA Injury Lawyers 6 years ago from Scranton Pennsylvania

      Great tips, especially in regards to staying visible while on the road.

      This could prevent a lot of accidents.

    • profile image

      Wyly Law Firm 6 years ago

      Great hub and great tips for those just starting out and long time motorcycle riders.

      The importance of motorcycle safety cannot be understated.

    • P Morgan profile image

      P Morgan 7 years ago

      Agree, we write on this motorcycle safety topic, too. GOod points here.

    • Dona Rosa profile image

      Dona Rosa 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Good tips. People sould know the basics about their bikes before they dash off.