Riders and Drivers: Share the Road

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Guidry
  • Air Armament Center Safety Office
To quote Paul McCartney and the Beatles "I read the news today, oh boy...". 

Did you see the headlines?: "Vehicle hits motorcyclist, drags bike 15 to 20 feet;" "Eglin accident caused by woman's failure to yield;" "Motorcyclist critical after SUV collision;" or "Pickup turns, hits Harley-Davidson." It's obvious that the drivers are not sharing the road with the riders. 

By drivers I mean those folks in four or more wheeled vehicles and by riders I mean those folks operating motorcycles. Now I'm not a rider nor do I play one on T.V. , but it is my responsibility as a driver to make sure there are no obstacles in my path of travel or in oncoming traffic when I operate my truck on the highway. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), of all motorcyclists killed, 55 percent were killed in multi-vehicle crashes. Many times the driver of the 4-wheeled motor vehicle was at fault. Again, we drivers need to share the road. 

We all know that properly operating a motorcycle requires training and the wearing of certain protection equipment. If you are an active duty military member, you are required to wear your personal protection equipment any time you are operating a motorcycle. If you are a government civilian employee, you are required to wear protective equipment when operating your bike on base. Hopefully each and every rider is wearing their protective gear whenever or wherever they ride. Most riders are. But no matter how well trained and protected these riders are, the rider may still get injured when the driver of a 4 wheeled vehicle pulls out in front of his or her motorcycle. Although riders may look "tough on the outside" they are "soft and squishy on the inside." Share the road! 

Car and truck drivers fail to notice riders in traffic because of their size and maneuverability. But you already knew this. So now do something about it. As a driver, you occupy the entire lane. Although a rider may only take up one-fourth of the lane, a rider has equal rights to the entire lane. Don't share the lane, share the road. Since a rider may not occupy the whole lane, make sure you clear the entire lane from outside stripe to inside stripe before pulling out into traffic, crossing that lane or passing a rider. Remember, motorcycles are small and difficult to see, include riders in your search pattern. Be especially alert at intersections. Drivers also tend to underestimate the speed of the riders since motorcycles are smaller. Give the rider the distance the rider deserves. Do not share the lane. 

Motorcycles and their riders are becoming more and more prevalent on the road, yet DOT reports that "fatalities have increased disproportionately to the rise in registrations." We drivers can help reduce that number, by including riders in our visual cross checks. Enjoy the ride and the drive...share the road!