TransOptions Newsletter

Watch for Motorcycles

Look Twice. Save a Life.

By Anne Vivino

Motorcycle crashes are on the rise in Sussex County, with the latest crash and subsequent fatality, occurring last week in Frankford. While the cause of the crash is still under investigation, the majority of the previous crashes were between cars and motorcycles. Just this past weekend, while driving on Route 23 in Wayne, I was witness to a car cutting off a motorcycle and doing so dangerously close, giving the motorcyclist no time to react in the event of an emergency. This happens all too often and in some cases, with fatal consequences. Below are tips for sharing the road safely with motorcycles as well as all road users. 

Share the Road with Motorcycles! 

  • Look for motorcycles, especially when checking traffic at an intersection. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road and some drivers don’t notice motorcycles at all. 
  • When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or near a driveway, assume a motorcycle is closer than it appears. Due to its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is.
  • Take an extra moment to thoroughly check traffic, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections. It is difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. It can also be hidden in a car’s blind spots or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car, again, due to its small size. 
  • Allow more following distance, about 3 or 4 seconds, to give you extra time to respond. Motorcycles are able to use their engines and gearing to slow down without using brakes. Therefore, don’t depend upon a brake light to alert you to a slowing motorcycle. 
  • Motorcycle turn signals usually are not self-canceling and some riders (especially beginners) may forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. 
  • Motorcyclists may adjust lane position for their own safety, not to be reckless or show off. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily or to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, or other conditions. 
  • Don’t expect a motorcyclist to always get out of your way. Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions. However, they can’t always react the way a passenger car can. 
  • Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly both dangerous and difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because it can’t always stop "on a dime."