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Tips for sharing the road with motorcycles

Published on Mar 31, 2021 | Last updated Apr 12, 2021 4 minute read

Tips for sharing the road with motorcycles

The roar of motorcycles coming down the highway is a sure sign that the warm weather is here! Every year, motorists should remind themselves that sharing the road and respecting others is important for everyone’s safety, and the overall enjoyment of travelling.

Here are our tips on how to be mindful about sharing the road with motorcycles.

Check your blind spots

  • Not checking your blind spot is one of the most common causes of accidents involving motorcycles and cars. Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles and can be more difficult to spot when merging or changing lanes. The shape of a motorcycle and its rider is also more likely to blend into the images you see in your rear-view and side-view mirrors than that of a large automobile. Take your time before merging and devote several seconds to searching each of your car’s blind spots before proceeding with your intended maneuver.
  • Because of their speed and size, motorcycles may also move quickly in and out of your blind spots. Always take a second look now that motorcycles are out on the road.

Be cautious when turning left

  • Making a left turn can be tricky, especially when traffic volume is heavy. You may have difficulty seeing due to sun glare, or because another vehicle is making a left turn opposite of you. Not only do you have to watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk, you have to watch for motorcycles coming through – especially if they’re travelling at high speed. Most accidents between a car and motorcycle occur in intersections. Due to a motorcycle's small size, we just don’t see them. When making a left turn, scan the intersection to determine what's happening. Then scan again looking specifically for motorcycles. If everything looks good, make your left turn safely.
  • Before you cross one or more lanes of traffic to turn left, take a second look for approaching motorcycles. Vehicle accidents involving the collision of a left-turning car and an approaching motorcycle can be very severe, often because the motorcycle t-bones the car while it is mid-way through the left turn. Remember that there is no such thing as a fender-bender for a motorcycle rider. They are completely exposed. Most multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles cause serious or fatal injuries to the riders. As the driver or an automobile, it’s your responsibility to be cautious and do everything in your power to prevent motorcycle accidents.

Stay focused, keep your distance

  • When it comes to slowing down, motorcyclists may not use their brakes immediately, so don’t expect to see brake lights. Motorcyclists may reduce speed by relaxing the throttle or downshifting so the speed will drop without ever touching their brakes.
  • Make sure that you maintain a generous following distance behind motorcycles. Rear-ending a motorcycle can be fatal to the rider, particularly if you’re driving a large, heavy vehicle.
  • Focus on driving and paying attention to what's going on outside your vehicle by eliminating distractions inside your vehicle.

Here are a few additional tips to ensure the roads are safe for all motorists:

  • Remember that motorcycles are vehicles as well. They must obey road laws, just the same as drivers of other vehicles.
  • Never pass a motorcycle in the same lane. They are legally entitled to their own lane and it can be deceiving as to how much of the road they are actually occupying. Treat them like you would treat any passing a car. Keep in mind they may need room to maneuver around things on the road such as potholes and debris.
  • Look twice for motorcycles. They can appear quickly and can be closer than they appear to be. Always double check how far away they are.
  • Don’t rely on the brake signals of a motorcycle. Motorcyclists will a lot of the time downshift instead of applying the brakes to trigger the rear brake light. Always allow enough following distance between you and the motorcycle to allow for a sudden stop.

If you are a motorcyclist remember to do your part as well! Here are a few tips for you to follow:

  • Avoid driving drowsy. Never operate a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Make sure other road users can see you. Wear reflective material on your clothing and always wear brighter colours if you are riding at dawn or dusk so you are easy to see.
  • Take a motorcycle safety course. There are several different courses you can take that are specific for motorcyclists.
  • And for your own safety, be sure to wear proper protective clothing while riding your motorcycle – shorts and a t-shirt with no helmet are no match for a heavy vehicle travelling at high speed not to mention pavement.

FAQs on sharing the Road with Motorcycles

Can a motorcycle drive between cars?

This is considered lane splitting, and is illegal in Canada. You cannot drive your motorcycle between two occupied lanes of traffic to get past them. A motorcyclist must obey the road rules just like other motorists.

Is it ok to share a lane with a motorcycle?

Motorcycles are allowed to ride side by side with a limit of two riders in a lane. This excludes other vehicles.

Do motorcycles have the same rights on the roads as other vehicles?

Motorcycle drivers have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else on the road!