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Biker Aware Safer Road Sharing - For the Motorist


What All Drivers Should Know - pdf file

With petrol prices hitting the roof & people turning to two wheel transport to save money, riders experience can vary, from the first time out & learning to ride, to highly experienced & aware riders.

Regardless of the riders degree of experience, safe riding space is paramount for survival of the rider. Driving too close will intimidate the rider & can distract the rider from what is most important… looking ahead.

Slow Biker:
A rider may ride slow because he/she is just learning, inexperienced & unfamiliar with the roads or bike. Do not travel too close still, alert the rider of your presence by a toot & flash of your lights but don’t assume he has heard or seen you unless they somehow acknowledge you. If you intend to overtake, do so with great care & do not pull back in too soon or close in front of the bike. This may scare them & cause them to run off the road.

Motor vehicle drivers are visually impaired by:
having many blind spots that can completely hide a motorcycle, making it invisible.
Always look twice, from both sides of your front windscreen pillars, moving your head to increase vision, (especially RH pillar as it is closer to you, it blocks the widest angles of view) check all mirrors regularly & look over your shoulder & beside you too, especially when merging &/or changing lanes. As motorcycles are smaller, they are harder to see, or can be hidden by other vehicles, or might look like part of the scenery. While it is not current law to ride with lights on, most bikers will choose to ride with lights on, if the bike is not hard wired. You are protected inside a car, & a motorcyclist will almost always get injured or possibly killed if you crash into them!

Motorcycle riders have peripheral vision:
and far better view all around than a car, which may be impaired by the riders experience or the adequacy of his mirrors. Some motorcycle mirrors can be inadequate for proper rear vision, especially for larger riders who can’t see past their arms. These riders will have good vision as far as they can look in both directions in front, but have huge blind spots behind them. (If you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you) If you travel too close or pass close, this may frighten them. A motorcycle has no protection from other vehicles, & is only protected by the clothing they wear. They are 20 times more likely to die in an event of an accident than a motorist.

“Nearly 80% of urban intersection two vehicle motorcycle collisions occur at signalised intersections. In 75% of these crashes the motorcycle had the right of way.”

When approaching any intersection, it is very important to look in all directions & both sides of the car’s pillars before making turns or moving onto the carriageway. At Traffic lights be very careful making right hand turns, as motorcycles can seem to appear from nowhere when you are already committed. DO NOT run red lights, as a motorcycle at the front of the traffic can be in the centre of the intersection within a second of the light turning green for them and this practice runs a high risk for bikers and motorists alike.

“As a biker, my life is threatened every time I enter a roundabout”

As you approach a roundabout, look hard to your right, then to the other side of the pillar toward your front, then where you intend to go when it is all clear. Do not go past, or too close to the stop line, as the biker may think you are not going to stop, & may take unnecessary evasive action, causing other motorists to endanger them. As you travel around the roundabout, stick to the marked lanes, Always indicate & be extremely careful exiting, where many motorists will cut-off the biker, exiting the inside lane straight to the left lane. A motorcycle can ride beside you, so be aware before pulling off that you are not turning off in front of a biker.

Changing Lanes & Merging:
is where many accidents happen. You may see the motorcycle at first, but if it travels beside you, you might forget it is there when you decide to change lanes. Always look to both sides, using mirrors & looking straight beside & over your shoulder, to where you intend to move & always indicate your intentions before you change lanes. If you accidentally cut off a biker, just acknowledge your mistake & they will accept this, although they might shake a fist at you, then they’ll get over it. Merging is much the same, always check in the same ways, & indicate your intentions. Merging onto highways, you should reach the highway posted speed before merging, as not to disrupt the general flow of traffic.

Biker wants to overtake you:
If a biker wants to overtake you, there are a few simple steps you can take to make overtaking safer & prevent them from taking unnecessary risks, regardless of whether you think they are braking the law or not.

(We all know what it is like to be stuck behind a slow truck or caravan that won’t let you pass safely)

The average motorcycle is about 70cms wide at the handle bars, meaning that with a bit of courtesy, they can safely overtake without crossing the path of oncoming traffic. All that is needed from you is to maintain your speed & drive as close to the left as practical. They will appreciate this & be able to pass quickly & safely. If you purposely move closer to the centre line & try to prevent them passing, this will aggravate them causing them to take more risks & endanger them & other motorists. As a bike is able to accelerate faster than a car, they may attempt to pass on double white lines, (which of course is illegal) still try to give them room, as they may not even have to cross the lines. Remember that white lines are very slippery, especially in the wet where they are lethal to the biker.

Following a Bike:
The general rule for following another car is leaving a 2 second gap, although when following a bike, 3 or 4 seconds is advised. @ 100kph, this is more than 90 metres, but not expected.

Many motorists don’t understand the dangers of following a motorcycle too closely. As the biker has no protection, regardless if they do something that causes you to crash into the back of them or not, fault will be assumed yours & you may be responsible for the death or serious injuries if you are following too close.

Facts: Motorcycles can stop faster than most cars. Reaction time for a motorcyclist to apply brakes can be less than half the time for a motorist to apply the brakes on a car. (A rider’s fingers only need to move 4 cms, compared with lifting your foot off the accelerator, then onto the brake pedal)

SO YOU MAY BE THINKING: “Sometimes Bikes sit too close behind me!” This might be true & they could cause themselves undue risks by doing so. A rider might be anticipating overtaking or be positioning themselves for a better view in front of your vehicle, although their own safety is their responsibility & may be compromised. If they are to the right of you, they may pass by you if you stop suddenly, although your actions could be detrimental to their safety depending on their experience. Giving them the “Brake Test” with no visible dangers in front of you will surprise them & possibly cause an accident.

More Safety Tips for Motorists and Bikers

See also

Stopping Distances


Statistics - Accident


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