Knowing how to share the road with motorcyclists can mean the difference between a devastating accident and arriving safely at your destination. Late spring and summer months bring more favorable weather for motorcycle rides in New Mexico. Drivers must be diligent in keeping an eye out for motorcycles and exercise some caution when they encounter them.
Everyone has an equal right to the roadways. Being cautious and courteous of other drivers – including those operating motorcycles – is the best way to prevent accidents.
Brush up on your hand signals
While motorcycles have brake lights and turn signals, some cyclists use hand signals to alert other drivers to their intentions. Some of the most common hand signals include those for left and right turns, slowing down, or stopping. The hand signals are easy to learn and remember and can mean the difference between you colliding with a motorcyclist and avoiding an accident.
- A left-turn hand signal is made by extending the left arm straight out to the side with your hand open and your thumb pointing upward. The same signal indicates a motorcyclist plans to change lanes to the left.
- A right-turn hand signal is made by extending the right arm straight out to the side with your hand open and your thumb pointing upward. The same signal indicates changing lanes to the right.
- A slow down hand signal is made by putting the palm of the hand parallel to the ground. Moving it up and down in this position indicates to other drivers you plan to gradually decrease your speed.
- A stopping hand signal is made by putting the hand straight down, with your fingers pointing toward the ground and the palm of the hand facing the driver behind you.
Sometimes motorcyclists will use their pointer fingers to alert other riders to road hazards and other dangers so they can avoid them.
Check your blind spots
Checking your blind spots is good defensive driving advice. The main blind spots on most vehicles are in the front, at the rear, and on both sides behind the windshield pillars. Some newer vehicles have safety systems designed to help drivers monitor these areas. Never rely solely on automatic alert systems to notify you about the proximity of motorcyclists because they can fail to work properly.
Being aware of the space around your vehicle is important when sharing the road with motorcyclists. Motorcycles are smaller and more difficult to see than full-size vehicles. Bikers can change lanes quickly, so it’s important to know their location. Check your mirrors frequently and ensure you have them adjusted for the best views.
Eliminate driving distractions
One of the best tips for avoiding accidents with motorcyclists is to eliminate distractions when behind the wheel. Talking and texting on a mobile phone causes the bulk of distracted driving accidents in New Mexico, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Cell phones aren’t the only things distracting drivers. Eating or drinking while driving, adjusting the stereo, and other passengers all create the opportunity to take your eyes off the road. You can’t be aware of your surroundings if your focus is elsewhere.
Leave plenty of room
Motorcyclists wear safety gear when riding, but it’s no match for the impact they’ll experience if a 4,000-plus pound car crashes into them at 70 mph. When you approach a motorcycle on the roadway, leave extra space to help the bike operator feel safer. Following the 3-second rule gives adequate space to stop quickly without colliding with a motorcyclist.
Bikers are exposed to a lot of road noise while riding. They may not hear your vehicle approach. Slow down to give them time to notice your approach. Rear-ending a motorcycle can be fatal for the biker. You can lessen the risk of that happening by leaving plenty of room between your vehicle and their bike.
Pass with caution
Part of leaving plenty of room for motorcyclists on the roadways is passing with caution. Sometimes you may want to pass a motorbike. Slowing down when you pass may seem counterproductive, but it can help the driver feel more secure while you do so.
Always wait for confirmation the biker sees you before passing. Some riders may wave their hands at you to indicate they’re aware of your presence. If you’re not sure they know you’re there before you pass, slow down and keep your eyes on them until you safely get around them on the roadway.
Share the road to keep motorcyclists safe
Motorcyclists who are injured because of careless drivers can seek fair compensation for their injuries. Schedule your free case evaluation with the experienced personal injury attorneys at Cameron & Russell. We’ll review your case and make recommendations for the best path forward.