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Sharing the road with motorcycles

Another horrific crash involving a motorcycle occurred this April in Hamden.

This is just the latest in a string of motorcycle accidents that remind us that as the weather changes, motorcycles begin populating Connecticut roads once more.

While these two-wheeled vehicles are fast and can maneuver quickly, they don’t offer much in terms of driver protection. Sharing the road with them can be nerve-wracking because the drivers are so exposed and maneuver through traffic in ways that cars can’t.

When you are on the road with motorcyclists, here are few things you can do to help make their ride a little safer:

1). See them!

We’ve all seen the “Start Seeing Motorcycles!” bumper stickers, and that’s for good reason. Many bikers will attest to the massive blind spots cars and trucks have around motorcycles.

When you are traveling on I-91 in riding season, pay extra attention to spotting motorcycles.

Double-check your blind spots and side mirrors before changing lanes. With their lower, smaller profile, it can be easy to look right past a cyclist when you are scanning for other cars.

Work on identifying the different types of bikes and spotting them from a distance in different kinds of light.

By seeing motorcycles, you are already helping create a safer commute for everyone.

2). Give them equal space.

Due to their smaller stature, some drivers don’t think motorcycles need their entire lane.

Of course, this is completely wrong as motorcyclists rely on the width of the lane to avoid any obstacles in their path.

Your car might be able to drive over road kill or an oil slick but motorcycles need to move around these hazards.

Treat motorcycles like cars and give them the entire lane to use as needed.

The same applies when following a motorcycle. Don’t tailgate—keep lots of room between your bumper and their bike.

One good rule of thumb is the four-second rule: look at a road sign or billboard when the bike passes it and then count to four before you pass the same sign.

This gives both you and the motorcyclist plenty of time to react should something happen.

3). Take the weather into account

We’ve all seen a sunny day turn cloudy in an instant. It’s just one of the things you get used to living in Connecticut.

Consider the weather when you are driving near motorcycles, as their two smaller wheels do not have the traction a car’s four wheels do.

This means when the roads get wet, motorcycles lose an element of control a lot faster than cars or trucks. Give them room to turn or slow down as the roads get wet.

Keeping these tips in mind can help reduce the number of tragedies we see on our roads.

With no seatbelts or airbags, the margin for error while on a motorcycle is a lot smaller than in a car.

If you are involved in an accident or suffered an injury because of one, it’s important to get help and make sure you are treated fairly.