Sharing the Road with Motorcycles

Motorcycle riders are as vulnerable as bicyclists. A motorcycle does not have the same protection as a car. There is no external frame, seatbelts or bumpers to shield them and sometimes they can be difficult to see.

Be watchful. Motorcycles are easy to miss in traffic. Learn to watch for the narrow profile of a motorcycle. Be careful when you park your car and when opening your car door into the street after parking. While at the operator of a motorcycle must be on the lookout or a car door opening, so too must the person opening the car door into a lane of traffic. Opening a car door into a lane of traffic is considered a violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.

Pay extra attention at night. You can easily misjudge distance due to a motorcycle’s single headlight and tail light, which can blend into the lights of other vehicles.

Check your blind spots when changing lanes. Motorcyclists riding beside a lane of cars are often out of the view of the drivers.

Sometimes a motorcycle’s turn signals are hard to see. Watch the driver’s movements; if the rider’s shoulder moves or the motorcycle leans, the rider is probably planning to change lanes or turn.

Don’t assume that a rider positioned in the left part of the lane is planning to turn left. Motorcyclists often ride in the left part of the lane to make themselves more visible.

Motorcyclists have the right to the full use of the lane. Never share a lane with a motorcycle rider. Motorcyclists have the same right to use the lane as a car driver does.

Pass as you would pass a car, and don’t pass too close or too fast or your car may throw dirt or water in the rider’s face. Make sure you see the entire motorcycle in your rear view mirror before moving back into a lane after passing a motorcycle rider. This is the standard method of moving back into a lane after passing a car, and the same rules apply when passing a motorcycle on the highway.

At intersections, wait until the rider’s intentions are absolutely clear (turning or going straight) before making your move.

Also order a FREE copy of Stuart A. Carpey’s book The Good, the Bad, and the Law: A Guide to Motorcycle Accidents in PennsylvaniaIt is available to order or download on the Carpey Law website.