Safety Tips for Driving Around Motorcycles

Here we are approaching the dog days of summer, with the last long weekend of the season on the horizon. The city streets and highways of B.C. will count more motorcycles than usual because in addition to normal driving and leisure, there are over 80 outdoor and publicly-open automobile and motorcycle shows taking place in the province through to the end of September. Two-wheeled machines will be out in full force.

Unfortunately, this also equates an increase in accidents involving motorcycles. Just this week another fatality in Delta will add to ICBC’s map of motorcycle accident hot zones. It is believed that the accident was caused by an SUV that crossed into a lane and struck the rider.

It is not uncommon for drivers of traditional vehicles (cars, trucks, vans, SUVs) to feel uncomfortable sharing the road with motorcycles. They are less visible and less predictable, darting in and out of traffic at nary a moment’s notice. We recently posted an article on safety tips for motorcycle riders, but this time we focus on you, so that you gain more comfort on the roads where they are present, and subsequently reduce the risk for accidents and insurance liability.

4 Tips for Driving Safe When There Are Motorcycles on the Road

1. Look Specifically for Them Before Changing Lanes or Turning

As a driver, you check the lane beside you before changing lanes or turning. However, this habitual practice does not go wide enough as the blind spots for bikes are bigger given their narrow profile. A well documented study on motorcycle safety known as the HURT Report cites that the drivers of motor vehicles violate a motorcyclists right-of-way in two-thirds of all accidents. The report clearly notes that time and time again, motorists fail to detect motorcycles in traffic and are thus the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. Nearly four-decades later, little has changed. Become a part of the solution by checking specifically for motorcycles before each and every lane change and turn. This will require a little more effort in the beginning, but will also become habitual over time.

Note: Distracted driving is a key culprit in failing to recognize an approaching motorcycle, so be sure to follow these tips to avoid distracted driving, unanticipated ones too.

2. Increase Your Following Distance

ICBC states that you should allow at least two seconds of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you when road conditions are normal. This distance should be increased to three seconds on high‐speed roads and to four seconds when road conditions are poor. The increase should also be applied when driving behind a motorcycle. When road conditions are normal, four seconds is smart, and when road conditions are poor, increase the distance to five or six seconds.

3. Let Them Get Their Swerve On

You’ll have to excuse the urban dictionary slang in the heading, but it’s apt given that motorcyclists need to swerve in their lane from time to time. Contrary to some opinions, they are not goofing around. Motorcyclists need to swerve in their lane for safety. Your car may be able to drive over a pothole, crevice, rock, or highway debris with ease, but for a motorcycle, these obstacles can prove hazardous if not life threatening. They have their eye closer to the ground and have to react quickly, and this may cause you discomfort when driving behind, on front, and/or beside them. Don’t let it distract you. Instead, keep mindful and cautious but respect the fact that they may be swerving as a way to drive safe.

4. Motorcycles in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

The phrase “objects in (the) mirror are closer than they appear” is a safety warning that is required to be engraved on passenger side mirrors of motor vehicles in Canada. This well known safety warning could include an appendix about motorcycles. Given the smaller size, lower, and more narrow profile a motorcycle behind your vehicle is much closer than you think. Drive accordingly.


In addition to following all of the above, be sure to reduce your liability risk regarding motorcycles on the road by improving upon your automobile insurance coverage. Receive an assessment by contacting an independent broker at Park Insurance today.