Q. In light of the recent accident involving a business vehicle and a group of motorcyclists, what are the best practices of sharing the road with motorcyclists?
A. It’s good that you’re focusing on this topic, because the grim truth is that motorcyclists have an accident rate that is 28 times higher than passenger vehicles, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Here are some of the best practices for sharing the road with motorcyclists provided by the California DMV:
• Be aware of road hazards: Potholes, seams, gravel, debris, and inclement weather can cause motorcyclists to change direction, stop, or even fall suddenly.
• Give them space: If possible, give a motorcyclist a full lane of space. While it may not be illegal to share a lane with a motorcycle (check your local laws), it’s not safe. And set a following distance of about four seconds — this will give you time to react if a motorcyclist falls or makes another sudden change.
• Be on the lookout: Because of their lower mass and high speed, motorcyclists may be difficult to see in a side view mirror, and then can appear “out of nowhere.” As with any maneuver from making a turn, changing lanes, merging into traffic, or opening doors in moving traffic, don’t rely just on your mirrors. Turn your head and check your blind spot.
• Yield the right of way: When coming to an intersection, the same right-of-way rules apply no matter the type of vehicle.
• Pass with care: While passing a motorcyclist is certainly allowed, do so carefully, particularly on two-lane, two-way roads.