Why Do Motorcyclists Move Around in Their Lane So Much?

To non-motorcyclists, the safe driving behavior of an experienced motorcycle rider can often be misinterpreted. A motorcyclist’s movement within a lane is an excellent example of this misinterpretation. Often, drivers will be concerned or confused when they see a motorcycle moving about their lane. While this behavior may seem reckless, nothing could be further from the truth.

Motorcyclists move around in their lanes to maintain their visibility to other drivers. Since motorcycles are small compared with other vehicles on the road, riders face serious danger if car drivers tune them out.

To avoid this, motorcyclists attempt to stay within drivers’ direct visual fields and avoid blind spots. Human peripheral vision is exceptionally adept at identifying movement; by moving back and forth within their lane, motorcycle riders can make drivers aware of their presence and keep themselves safe.

Commonly Misinterpreted Motorcycle Safety Techniques

Motorcycle accidents are more dangerous and typically result in more injuries than automobile accidents. Motorcycle riders take several safety measures to keep themselves safe on the road.

Some of these behaviors may seem unsafe, but they are intended to reduce the risk of a potentially fatal accident.

  • Moving Within a Lane

Motorcycles have a right to the entire width of the lane they are occupying. As a result, they are free to move throughout the lane as they see fit. Often, motorcyclists will take advantage of this to avoid roadway obstacles. In other cases, riders do this to stay within automobile drivers’ lines of sight.

One popular technique is positioning the motorcycle so the driver in front of them is visible to the motorcycle rider in the car’s side mirror. This ensures that the motorcyclist is visible. Riders may also move back and forth in the lane to avoid being tuned out by other drivers.

  • Head Turning

Motorcycle mirrors are a helpful tool but should not be solely relied on to make lane changes. Instead, motorcyclists are instructed to turn their heads to check their blind spots before changing lanes.

  • Splitting Lanes

Splitting lanes, also known as “riding the zipper,” is a technique where a motorcyclist travels between lanes of traffic, most commonly when traffic is stopped. The American Motorcyclist Association endorses the practice. The organization cites a 1981 study called the Hurt Report that showed that lane splitting reduced accidents compared to waiting in traffic.

A handful of states, such as California, have legalized this practice. While Missouri law does not take a clear stance on the practice, it is not expressly authorized as a legal maneuver. This means that if a motorcyclist is in an accident, lane splitting may be cited as the cause of the accident.

Motorcyclists may also be pulled over by police and ticketed for making the maneuver if the surrounding road conditions or circumstances are deemed unsafe.

How to Share the Road with a Motorcycle

Even if you are not a motorcycle rider, you should understand how motorcycles work and how to operate your vehicle safely when motorcycles are near. Here are some ways to reduce your risk of being involved in an accident with a motorcycle rider:

  • Thoroughly Check Your Blind Spots

One of the most common causes of automobile-motorcycle collisions is a failure by the automobile driver to check their blind spots properly. It is vital to check your mirrors and turn your head to check your blind spots before making a lane change.

  • Exercise Caution When Passing

A sudden updraft from a car passing a motorcycle too closely can cause the motorcyclist to lose their balance. When passing a motorcycle, do so at a safe speed and leave adequate space.

  • Maintain Plenty of Space

Motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars, so it’s important to keep extra space when driving behind a motorcycle to account for braking-distance differences.

  • Take Extra Precautions at Night

Nighttime hours are hazardous for motorcycle riders due to decreased visibility. Take extra precautions when around a motorcycle at night.

  • Double-Check Traffic Before a Left Turn

When making a left turn across traffic, double-check the cross-traffic for motorcycles. Often, drivers miss the motorcycle on their first check. Double-checking can prevent a deadly T-bone accident.

Hire an Experienced Attorney After a Motorcycle Accident

If you are involved in an accident as a motorcycle rider, choosing an attorney with extensive experience handling motorcycle accident injury cases is crucial. Contact the St. Louis motorcycle injury attorneys at Cofman Townsley. Our experience with these cases will allow you to get fair compensation for your injuries. Call our law firm to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help maximize your settlement.