You and your motorcycle

Keeping your distance

The best protection you can have is distance - between yourself and others. If someone makes a mistake, distance gives you time to react and somewhere to go.

Distance to the side

As a motorcycle rider, you can do one thing the driver of a car cannot - you can move from one side of the lane to the other to increase distance from other vehicles.

An experienced rider changes lane position as traffic and road conditions change. Some of the conditions that require changes in lane position are shown below.

Oncoming and passing vehicles

Whenever you are being passed by a following or an oncoming vehicle, move towards the left of the road. There is no point in being nearer to the vehicle than you have to be.

A slight mistake by either driver could cause a sideswipe.

Oncoming vehicle

Oncoming vehicle
Passing vehicle

Passing vehicle

Large vehicles passing you

A large vehicle passing you may cause gusts of air that could affect your stability and control. You have more room to compensate if you are close to the middle of the lane.

Other vehicles at intersections

Most collisions between other vehicles and motorcycles occur at intersections.

The two major causes of motorcycle crashes at intersections are:

  • a vehicle making a turn across a motorcycle's path
  • a vehicle pulling out from a side street into a motorcycle's path.

If a car can enter your path, it is safest to assume that it will enter your path. At intersections:

  • approach slowly - if a driver does pull out suddenly, your chances of making a quick stop or quick turn are better if you're going slowly
  • keep your distance - change lanes if possible, or move as far away from other vehicles as road conditions and traffic allow.
Increase your distance from other vehicles at intersections

Increase your distance from other vehicles at intersections

Parked vehicles

When passing parked vehicles, a motorcyclist has an advantage over drivers because, by staying in the right-hand part of the lane, you can avoid problems caused by doors opening, drivers getting out of other vehicles or people stepping out from between vehicles.

Keep clear of parked vehicles

Keep clear of parked vehicles

However, you should beware of vehicles making U-turns or drivers who may pull out without looking.

If you see a vehicle about to pull out, approach cautiously. Be ready to slow down and, if necessary, sound your horn.

Merging vehicles

Vehicles entering a motorway from an on-ramp may have trouble seeing a motorcycle. The headlight on a motorcycle is not very visible at an angle.

Don't assume that a driver on an on-ramp can see you. Change lanes or make space to let the driver in.

Vehicles alongside

Don't ride next to other vehicles if you don't have to. A vehicle in the next lane could move into your lane at any time without warning. Vehicles in the next lane can also block your escape if you run into danger in your own lane.

Speed up or drop back until you find a place that is clear on both sides.

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Last updated: 7 July 2014