How to Safely Share the Road with Trucks and Motorcycles
Trucks and motorcycles present opposite challenges for motorists. Trucks are dangerous because they are large, powerful and not very maneuverable. Motorcycles are dangerous because they are small, vulnerable and nimble. It stands to reason that motorists must have different strategies for dealing with each. Common ways that passenger cars get into accidents with trucks include:
- Cutting the truck off — Trucks take longer to slow down and stop than do passenger cars. When a passenger car makes an abrupt lane change in front of a truck, it creates a tight following distance for the truck. If the car then has to hit the brakes for any reason, the truck may not have enough distance to stop without rear-ending the car. Truck drivers that hit the brakes too hard after being cut off risk jackknifing their rig.
- Following too closely — This maneuver is dangerous for all vehicles, but it’s worth emphasizing that even though trucks take longer to stop, following too closely puts a passenger car in the position where a second’s inattention can cause the car to rear-end a stopping truck.
- Sitting in the blind spot — Because of their length, trucks have very long blind spots. If you are the only car driving alongside a truck, you should move up to where you can be seen. You must also be attentive to the truck’s turn signals; if the truck signals a lane change, move up to where you can be seen, hit your horn to be heard, or fall back and yield the lane.
- Not yielding the lane on wide turns — Trucks make wide turns, especially on tight curves. If you don’t anticipate that the trailer may cross into the adjacent lane, your vehicle could be crushed in a side-swipe.
As for motorcycles, the major problem is visibility. Most motorists who hit motorcycles claim they never saw the bike coming, so general vigilance is needed. Motorcyclists often compensate for their lack of visibility by running their headlight during the day and maintaining very loud exhaust pipes. Of course, if you’re blaring music from your stereo or headphones, you won’t hear the pipes. So, keep music and other noise in the car to a minimum. When you do see a motorcycle, here are some points to remember:
- Following too closely — A motorcycle can stop much more quickly than a car, so you risk rear-ending and rolling up on a bike when a sudden stop is necessary.
- Passing in the same lane — Even though a bike is narrow, a motorcycle rider is entitled to the entire width of the lane. If you must pass, go into the adjacent lane to do it.
- Think like a motorcyclist — If you’re following a bike, you need to read the road like a biker, so you can anticipate what the motorcycle is likely to do next. Motorcyclists hate manhole covers, metal grates, train tracks, large painted letters and arrows, and metal plates. Expect the bike to maneuver around them. If stopping is required, the bike will probably try to stop before, rather than on, such hazards.
- Increase following distance in bad weather — Riding a motorcycle in the rain is never a good idea, but for many bikers it becomes a necessity. Wet roads are bad for cars, but they’re even more hazardous for two-wheeled vehicles. When the road surface is wet, always increase your following distance in case the bike ahead of you goes down.
Sharing the road requires patience and vigilance. But, if you suffer an injury accident, Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. can evaluate your case for free and provide the legal representation you need. To schedule a consultation, call today at 253.250.4516 or contact our office online.