Big Rigs and Little Guys: Look Twice for Motorcycles

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motorcycle driving between lanesWe share the road with vehicles of all types and sizes. We’re the big guys on the highway, and as such, we have great responsibility to watch for other drivers on the road, especially the smaller vehicles that are often overlooked.

The weather is getting warmer and some of the major events such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota are revving up. Undoubtedly we will be encountering more bikers and it’s time we reconsider some simple guidelines which will keep us all safe, no matter where we’re headed.

It’s time we keep an eye out for the little guys on the road.

Forty-six percent of motorcycle crashes occur at intersections, according to an Allstate study. Many of these happen because the other vehicle involved does not see the cycle until it is too late to stop. Exercise extreme caution in urban areas with stop-and-go flow. Remember, our trucks make sweeping turns and assume the majority of the road in doing so. Keep your eyes peeled and check your blind spots.

As always, don’t try to beat the light. It goes without saying, but our vehicles are a bit trickier to navigate through an intersection than your typical automobile. These practices should be nothing new to you but can make the difference in a motorcyclist’s safety and life.

Motorcycle accidents are also common in areas with twisting roads and changing elevations. Luckily, most bikers ride in big packs to the summer rallies, but it’s the one cyclist in the back that you didn’t see. Be alert when driving through the mountains or rolling hills.

To avoid accidents in these trouble spots, make certain you are constantly looking around. Most truckers know their blind spots, but these are especially troublesome when sharing the road with bikers since their vehicles are noticeably smaller. Bounce between all your mirrors prior to, and after, making any lane changes. Trust your ears. Keep music and other distractions within bounds as you may hear a biker well before you see them.

To further these points, remember that motorcycle helmets and their enforcement are not a universal. Only twenty states in the U.S. plus Washington D.C. have a universal helmet law in effect, according to, which consequently influence the number of people who wear motorcycle helmets in the states you may cross. This consideration presents many concerns.

Motorcycle helmets may stifle a rider’s ability to see and hear our trucks, so keep that in mind and never assume that a rider knows we are there. In fact, it’s best to exercise defensive driving practices and give cyclists plenty of room to maneuver. Never tailgate a cyclist or pass without ample signaling.

There’s a camaraderie among long haul travelers. We share the road with a unique blend of people excited to take in new sights and fresh settings, often with little windows of sleep and countless hours ahead on our journey. As our brothers and sisters on two wheels gear up for their summer rallies, we should lead the front and set examples for drivers across all boards.

Look twice—and look again—for the little guys on the road.

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