Lane position is one of the top strategies a motorcycle rider must utilize to avoid the most common multiple vehicle crashes. Here is a common scenario that illustrates the need to be hyper-aware of blind spots.
You and your wife gather your things and pack your bike for a ride to visit family. As expected traffic is heavy, but people are calmly rolling along at about 25 mph. You position yourself in the left portion of your lane to see past a truck in front of you, leaving ample following distance in case the truck stopped quickly.
Suddenly, an SUV just ahead and to your left moves right, into your lane. You have little time to react, but it’s too late. Your front tire makes contact with the right rear bumper and you are both thrown to the pavement.
As innocuous as the situation seemed, you still needed to be aware of the risks around you. The driver who crossed into your lane did so because she thought the lane was clear. She claimed to have looked in her side mirror and even glanced over her shoulder before turning, but saw nothing.
Yes, the driver is responsible for making sure the lane was clear, but you were riding in her blind spot. Not smart.
Here are some ways to help drivers see you easier:
- Avoid lingering in blind spots. Drive through blind spots when possible (and safe) by traveling a bit faster than surrounding traffic. Filter or lane-split if you can (and if legal).
- Ride in the driver’s peripheral vision, slightly ahead of the passenger or driver side door.
- If that’s not possible, then drop back so the driver can see you in their mirrors and to place your bike out of harm’s way if the driver changed lanes suddenly.
- Never “hide” behind other vehicles where it is nearly impossible for drivers to see you.
- Position yourself at least 2 seconds behind vehicles you are following. More when following large vehicles.
- Develop a sixth sense about your environment so you can respond before things unfold. Ask “what’s wrong with this picture”?
- Predict what actions drivers are likely to make. Look for arm and head movements that can indicate an imminent lane change or turn.
- Pay close attention to unexplained slowing, drifting or erratic behavior. I call this “vehicle body language”.
Environmental awareness and proper lane positioning are two of the most important strategies for being seen.
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