How to Share the Road With Motorcycles

As a driver, it's almost second nature to drive in traffic with other cars or trucks. No special considerations beyond common courtesy and following the laws typically apply. However, when driving in traffic with motorcycles, there are other considerations drivers should make. Here are some helpful suggestions about how to share the road with motorcycles, and keep both you and the motorcyclists safer.


  1. Image titled Share the Road With Motorcycles Step 1
    Use only your half of the road. In typical traffic, it's the law to stay in your own lane. This also applies when approaching or driving in the same direction as a motorcyclist. Allow the motorcycle a full lane of space and do not infringe upon his lane. Resist the urge to join a motorcyclist in his lane, even if he appears to move over to allow room. This is not a safe way to travel for either you or the motorcyclist.
  2. Image titled Share the Road With Motorcycles Step 2
    Pay attention. Motorcycles are more difficult to see on the roadways than passenger vehicles or large trucks. Check your blind spots and look in all mirrors before changing lanes, turning or maneuvering your vehicle. At night, be especially cautious as a motorcycle, with its one headlight, is harder to see compared to cars with two headlights.
  3. Image titled Share the Road With Motorcycles Step 3
    Signal in time so that a motorcyclist may react to your vehicle. Use your turn signal when merging into traffic or making lane changes. Tap your brakes to let a motorcyclist who is behind you know that you plan to stop soon or are slowing down.
  4. Image titled Share the Road With Motorcycles Step 4
    Observe an ongoing turn signal on a motorcycle as a forgotten turn signal. Do not depend on the motorcycle turning. Often, a motorcycle's turn signals do not feature an automatic shut-off after the motorcycle has turned, unlike cars or trucks. It is common for motorcycle riders to forget their turn signals are on. Exercise caution around a motorcycle with a continually flashing turn signal.
  5. Image titled Share the Road With Motorcycles Step 5
    Follow with plenty of room to spare. Allow for extra space between you and a motorcycle. Motorcycles are capable of stopping much faster than a car or other heavier vehicles. Also understand that many experienced motorcycle riders rarely show any brake lights while slowing down due to the fact that most motorcycles are built with "wet" clutches that allow for engine braking (down-shifting) rather than actual use of the brakes themselves. If you follow too closely, you may be caught by surprise when the motorcycle suddenly slows or stops in traffic. Allow at least twice as much space between you and the motorcycle as you normally would between another car or truck, especially when driving on roads with many intersections or that have repeated curves in them.
  6. Image titled Share the Road With Motorcycles Step 6
    Stay aware when approaching intersections or preparing to make a left turn. Motorcycles provide a rather small profile, especially from behind and can be lost in the kaleidoscope of traffic color and movement as our eyes focus on the light or where we want to turn instead of the lane we are in or moving into. Once stopped many motorcycle riders release their brakes, thus turning off their brake lights and this can make them even harder from some to see from behind. Rear-ending another car or truck at low speed might leave those vehicles with nothing more than a bent fender. Just tapping the much lighter motorcycle from behind with a car bumper can crush a bike or launch the occupant, neither or which ever end well for the rider.
  7. Image titled Share the Road With Motorcycles Step 7
    Realize road conditions affect motorcyclists more than drivers of other vehicles. Motorcycle drivers often have to react suddenly to potholes, sand/gravel in an intersection, tire debris or uneven surfaces in the roadway, especially with stretches of construction work. Slick, rainy roads also offer more of a hazard to motorcyclists than to other drivers. Try to anticipate a motorcycle's actions on roads with hazards.

Article Info

Categories: Driving Techniques