Share The Road: Motorcycle Safety

Submitted by Pat G., Sprout Contributor
Source: PA Highway Safety Program (

Did You Know?
Over 3,000 motorcycle accidents occur each year on Pennsylvania road. Half of these involve an accident between a motorcycle and another type of vehicle. And almost two-thirds of these accidents are caused not by the motorcyclist but the driver of the other vehicle.

In most accidents between a motorcycle and another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle didn’t see the motorcyclist at all, or didn’t see the motorcycle in time to avoid the crash.

More than 15,000 motorcycles are registered and share the roads in Pennsylvania. As a Pennsylvania motorist, you can help make both driving and riding safer for everyone if you “Drive Smart.” Motorcyclists need to ride safely too, but if you’re in a car or truck, here’s what you can do to avoid accidents with motorcycles.

Most motorcycle/automobile collisions occur because the automobile driver fails to see the motorcycle. Motorcycles are small and, therefore, more difficult to see. Their size also allows them to easily duck into your blind spot. Be alert for motorcyclists. Make a double-check before you:

  • Change lanes
  • Enter a major thoroughfare from a side street, driveway or parking lot
  • Make a left turn across traffic
  • Expect motorcycles to be part of the traffic flow. Scan your surroundings continuously. Look ahead and check in the side and rear view mirrors. Include motorcycles in this sean and be prepared for the motorcyclist’s maneuvers.

When following a motorcycle into a turn, be a defensive driver. Drop back and give the motorcyclist room for:

  • Unexpected shifts in lane position
  • Sudden slowing or acceleration
  • Allow room for error. Keep a margin for safety

Over 40% of motorcycle collisions occur at intersections. Stop-and-go traffic and the difficulty in seeing a motorcycle can make for a dangerous combination:

  • Expect motorcycles to be part of the traffic flow
  • Avoid trouble by carefully looking for motorcycles at intersections
  • Look twice

Motorists do not always see a motorcycle’s turn signals. Remember too, that motorcycle turn signals may not turn on automatically. So be especially careful when entering intersections. As a motorist, always remember to:

  • Signal properly
  • Maintain a safe distance between vehicles

Obstacles that may prove minor to a motorist can be deadly to the motorcyclist. Be prepared for a motorcyclist’s sudden changes or unusual maneuvers when you spot danger on the road. Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the motorcycle by applying the “4-second rule”:

  • Select a fixed object (a sign post or telephone pole)
  • After the motorcycle passes the object, count “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three, one-thousand-four.”
  • Your automobile should not reach the object before you finish counting. If necessary, slow down so that you’re not tailgating.

Sharing the Road
Motorcycles and other vehicles can share the road safely. We simply need to understand each other’s traffic needs. Motorists must try to put “motorcycle sense” into their driving by keeping a special eye out for motorcyclists. Motorcycles must make their intentions clear and themselves more visible. Sharing knowledge and experience with each other will help everyone Share The Road.

Motorcycle Safety Program
The Department of Transportation sponsors the Motorcycle Safety Program which provides motorcycle safety training and riding instructions to all interested Pennsylvania residents who have a Class M permit or license. This course includes seven hours of classroom instruction and ten hours of cycle riding practice. There is no fee for this course and motorcycles are provided. For more information concerning the Motorcycle Safety program call 1-800-845-9533 or visit