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How to share the road with motorcyclists

When spring and summer arrive, many motorcyclists move their bikes out of storage and onto Florida's roadways. Motorcycles are significantly smaller than cars and trucks, and don't have the same protection. So it is not difficult to see why about 80 percent of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death to riders and theirs passengers.

As a driver, you must do your part to help motorcyclists stay safe on the open road. After all, if you negligently cause an injury or death, you could face significant legal and life consequences. Here are some tips for safely sharing the road with motorcycle riders: 

Use your turn signal

Motorcyclists are not mind readers. You can help avoid confusion by using your turn signal. Tell riders where you plan to go, so they can steer clear or leave you room to turn or change lanes. 

Understand motorcycle turn signals

For some reason, many motorcycles do not come with self-canceling turn signals. Instead, riders must remember to manually stop signaling after they make a turn. Recognize this fact and provide motorcyclists with a bit of extra room to ride. Rather than blindly trusting a blinking light, wait a bit to see what the rider actually does. 

Check your blind spots

Your vehicle has mirrors and perhaps modern "radar" technology to help you see the space around it. Unfortunately, your car's mirrors cannot show you everything. Before you turn, change lanes or otherwise redirect your vehicle, check your blind spots to be sure a motorcyclist is not in your way or entering the same space. Look a couple of times before you steer your vehicle. Also, adjust your mirrors to reduce potential blind spots. 

Respect lane space

You would never dream of forcing a car or truck out of the driving lane. Motorcycles deserve this same level of respect. Even though most bikes are less than half the size of your vehicle, let riders have the entire lane. And allow at least as much room between your vehicle and a motorcycle as you would for any car. Many motorcycle accidents occur when tailgating cars rear-end the bike.

With a bit of luck and some care, you may never swap paint with a motorcycle. But it never hurts to consider how you share the road with riders. By doing your part to avoid a motorcycle collision, you can help reduce the number of rider injuries and deaths that occur each year on Florida's roads.

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