The first day of summer is right around the corner. As the weather gets warmer, more people are out and about. This is a great time to review how to interact with roadway users who are more active in the summer, such as motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians on foot.
Unfortunately, motorcyclists are greatly overrepresented in fatal crashes in the US. In 2018, there were 4,985 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes. Motorcycles are smaller than passenger vehicles, which makes them harder to see. Here are some tips for interacting with motorcycles on the road:
- Pass a motorcycle just like you would pass a car. Don’t share the lane while passing, and don’t get too close to the motorcycle.
- Always use your turn signals and watch for oncoming motorcycles that may be hard to see, especially at left turns. When turning left at 4-way intersections, be alert and watch for motorcyclists following behind vehicles in oncoming traffic.
- Keep an extra long following distance behind motorcycles. They will need the extra time to maneuver in an emergency.
- Remember to check your blind spots before turning or changing lanes. Motorcyclists are often missed because drivers don’t check their blind spots. Remember, motorcycles are shorter and more narrow than other vehicles and harder to see.
- Motorcycles are affected more than cars by poor traveling conditions, such as rain, wet roads, ice and heavy wind. Be aware that the motorcyclist’s braking and handling abilities will be impaired, and give them plenty of space.
Bicyclists follow the same rules of the road as motorists. That means they must follow the same rules of right-of-way, and they must obey all traffic signs and signals. Unlike pedestrians, bicyclists are required to ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
Always give bicyclists plenty of room when passing them. A safe distance is at least three feet. However, you may leave more distance between you and the bicyclist if that makes you more comfortable. Just be sure to stay in a lane and stay safe. Remember that the bicycle lane is for bicyclists! You may not use this lane to pass other vehicles.
Pedestrians have the right-of-way at marked and unmarked crosswalks. This means that you must wait for pedestrians to cross. At uncontrolled intersections where there are no traffic signs or signals to direct pedestrians to cross the street, you also must yield the right-of-way to them. At controlled intersections (i.e., intersections controlled by traffic lights), yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when they have the "WALK" signal. If the "WALK" signal turns to red after the pedestrian has already entered the crosswalk, you must still yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian.
If you see a pedestrian crossing the street, always slow down and be prepared to stop, even if you have the right-of-way. Keep an eye out for pedestrians in driveways and alleys, in parking lots, getting out of parked cars on the sides of busy streets, and in school zones.
Don’t make a turn that causes pedestrians to stop, slow down, or make some other special effort to avoid a collision. If children are nearby, take special care because children are unpredictable and not always aware of the dangers of traffic. Make sure you’re mindful of others who have difficultly crossing streets, such as elderly people or someone with a disability.
Sometimes runners choose to run on the street rather than the sidewalk because the asphalt has more give and is easier on their joints. Keep an eye out for them. Plan for sudden movements, and always give runners extra space when passing them. Also, keep in mind that many people run with headphones on and may be unaware of your approach. Slow down and take your time passing them.
This summer, keep an eye out for these roadway users! We all have a right to use the roadways, whether it’s in a vehicle or on foot. For more driving tips like these, take one of our online courses! Visit our website to see which online courses we offer in your area!