Share The Road: Motorcycle and Automobile Safety Tips

Guy riding a motorcycle with bluejeans, leather jacket, helmet, and sunglasses.It’s that time of year when the sun is shining, the streets are dry and the temps beckon the motorcyclists to start riding again. This also means that motorcyclists and automobiles have to start sharing the roads with each other.  Here are some tips for both drivers and motorcyclists to help keep everyone safe on the roads this motorcycle season.

Ways for Motorcyclist to be seen in Traffic

  • Wear a brightly colored or white helmet
  • Wear a fluorescent, reflective safety vest or brightly colored riding jacket
  • Use strategic lane positioning
  • Flash your brakes at stops
  • Incorporate reflective materials on your motorcycle
  • Install additional driving lights
  • Install position and marker lights
  • Avoid riding at night, dawn and dusk
  • Install a louder horn
  • Avoid riding during low sun angle times
  • Avoid riding in poor weather conditions

Use reflective clothing for night time driving. Place reflective tape on your helmet and the backs of your boots to increase your visibility.

Women in driver seat of car with hand on the wheel looking over her shoulder.Make sure you are not in a blind spot or behind a large truck. Use your lane and make sure you are seen.  Always drive with your headlights on. Newer models of motorcycles have headlights that are hardwired to automatically come on when the engine is turned on.  Older models don’t have this feature so make sure you turn your headlights on!

 8 Things a Motorist Should Know About Motorcycles

  1. Over half of motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle.  Most often it is the fault of the car or truck driver, not the motorcyclist.
  2. Because of a motorcyclist’s narrow profile it can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spot (door or roof frames). Take a second look before changing lanes or turning at intersections.
  3. The smaller size of a motorcycle makes it appear farther away than it actually is.  A motorcycle’s speed can also be difficult to judge. Before turning at an intersection or into or out of a driveway, expect a motorcycle to be closer than it really is.
  4. Follow a motorcycle with the 3 to 4 second rule of distance between you and the motorcycle. Motorcyclists often slow down by down shifting or letting up on the throttle so you won’t see a brake light come on. When at an intersection a motorcyclist may slow down without any visual warning.
  5. If you see a motorcyclist in your rear-view mirror shifting in the lane behind you they have a reason for it. It is to minimize the effects from road debris, passing vehicles and the wind. It is not to show off, be reckless or to share the lane with you. They are also doing it to insure you know they are there!
  6. A motorcycle’s turn signals don’t turn off automatically after a turn or a lane change and sometimes a rider forgets to turn them off. So make sure a motorcyclist’s turn is for real.
  7. Motorcycles have great maneuverability at low speeds and good road conditions; however, under slippery conditions they have the same issues that automobiles have. In slippery road conditions you need to allow more space between you and the motorcyclist as they won’t be able to stop “on a dime.”
  8. When you see a motorcyclist keep in mind that it might be a friend, neighbor or relative under that helmet.

Things to Know When Buying Motorcycle Insurance

Insuring your motorcycle is not the same as insuring an automobile. In Minnesota you have personal injury protection of $20,000 in medical coverage on you automobile policy. However, this coverage is optional with motorcycle insurance and most companies will go to $10,000. Uninsured and under-insured motorist liability coverage is optional on a motorcycle policy as well. Bodily injury coverage for passengers is not offered on all motorcycle insurance policies. Make sure your policy includes this coverage. Tell your agent if you have added any special equipment such as saddle bags, special handle bars or anything else not factory installed. Most companies will allow some coverage for this type of equipment. Check with your agent to make sure the amount covers your additional equipment. If you are planning on pulling a trailer, make sure you have both trailer and towing coverage.

By: Christine Gaffron, Insurance Advisors, Inc.

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