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Bureau of Motor Vehicles

myBMV > Motorcycles and Motor Driven Cycles > Motorcycle Awareness Motorcycle Awareness

Motorcycle AwarenessMotorcyclists have the same rights and privileges as other drivers. Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem as though there is enough room in the traffic lane for an automobile and a motorcycle, remember the motorcycle needs room to maneuver safely.

The smaller profile of motorcycles can make it more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle. Motorcycles can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look. Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking your mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections. Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows the motorcyclist to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.

Do not be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Motorcycle signals usually are not self-canceling, and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.

Road conditions, which are minor annoyances to drivers of larger vehicles, pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists may change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions, such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement. Allow at least three or four seconds when following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

Advice from professional motorcycle instructors:

  • When you pass a motorcycle rider, please allow several car lengths before getting back in front of us in our lane. They need to be able to see the street surface to remain safe.
  • Please don’t follow too closely. Should a motorcyclist go down while riding they could quickly become a target of major unintended consequences.
  • Motorcyclists position themselves in the left, center and right portions of the lane at various times to maximize their visibility and safety. Please respect their space and don’t try to lane share.
  • Even if you are in a hurry please keep at a safe distance from motorcyclists and share the road.