As the weather warms, Minnesotans are quick to begin enjoying activities that they were unable to during the winter. One of those is pulling out the motorcycles, and having seen several cruising around already this spring, I thought it might be a good idea to brush up on motorcycle awareness tips.

According to the Office of Traffic Safety, a division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, "About half of all motorcycle crashes involve a collision with another vehicle." The website says that intersections, blind spots and weather can all be contributing factors to potential accidents. The Office of Traffic Safety offers these tips to increase motorcycle awareness and road safety.

  • Watch aggressively for motorcycles.
  • Search the traffic constantly and expect to see motorcycles.
  • Check blind spots before changing lanes or merging, especially in heavy traffic.
  • Double-check traffic at intersections before turning or pulling out.
  • Motorcycles can easily be hidden in traffic. Look for a helmet above, tires below, or a shadow alongside a vehicle.
  • Anticipate hazards that may confront the motorcyclist and predict how the motorcyclist may react to the situation.
  • Poor road conditions, bad weather, flying debris, oil slicks and heavy traffic pose high risks for motorcyclists.
  • Allow a minimum three-second "space cushion" when following a motorcycle.
  • Pick out a fixed object ahead of you. When the motorcycle passes the object, count off, "one thousand one, one thousand two...." If you haven't passed the same object after two seconds, your following distance meets the two-second minimum.
  • In poor driving conditions, at higher speeds and at night, use a four or five-second following distance to give the motorcyclist more space.
  • Watch out when turning left.
  • Because motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, it is harder to see them and more difficult to judge their approach speed in traffic.
  • Share the road.
  • Do not drive in the same lane as a motorcycle. It is unsafe and illegal.
  • Treat motorcyclists with the same respect and courtesy you afford to other motorists.
  • Observe and obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.
  • Failure to obey and yield the right-of-way can result in the death or serious injury of a motorcyclist.
  • Stay focused on the driving task. Inattentive driving is a major cause of vehicle-motorcycle crashes.
  • Remove all possible distractions that can interfere with the driver's attention, and remove any objects that may block the driver's view.
  •  Looking twice may save a life!