Why You Should Visually Check For Motorcycles When Changing Lanes

Driving on the highway can be notoriously hazardous if you’re not careful. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, there’s been an 11% increase from 2019 to 2020 in the number of motorcycle crashes here in the US. The situation is alarming, and taking extra caution on the road is essential now more than ever.

One of the most common mistakes automobile drivers make is not checking properly for motorbikes. As they’re relatively small and move much quicker, it’s easy for them to slip past your eye. 

If you ever realized this before, congratulations, you’re one step closer to being safer on the road. Today we’ll elaborate on that a little more and tell you why you should visually check for motorcycles when changing lanes. Let’s start.

Why Motorcycles Stand Out

Why Motorcycles Stand Out

First, let’s go over why bikes are an issue. The quick yet incredibly compact form factor makes them especially tricky to deal with. Besides cars, cyclists in the bike lane need to pay attention to them as well. You should pay special attention to them on a car, because —

  • Low Riding Style

Bikes aren’t as high as your regular car or truck. Some are even designed explicitly to be driven low. This makes it difficult to track them easily on the looking view mirror and requires you to make a manual, visual check once in a while.

The low riding scheme makes motorbikes get easily blended into railroad tracks as well. Some accidents occur when parked vehicles, passenger vehicles, or a slow-moving vehicle, four-wheel vehicle, or average passenger vehicle when the passenger vehicle drivers open their doors, not noticing the motorbike behind them.

  • Smaller Form Factor

Motorcycles are definitely smaller than other motor vehicles you’ll see on the road. This combined with the low form factor makes them even more tricky to spot on the road. Moreover, the small form factor lets them get inadvertently hidden behind bigger cars or trucks and slip into your looking view mirror. The road condition makes it easy for them to camouflage easily as well.

High reaction time helps bikers avoid catastrophes, but sometimes it’s just not enough. This is especially seen at an uncontrolled intersection or on public roadways. Bike lane users need to be aware too.

  • Incredible Speeds

Bikes are exceptionally fast. They average around 40 miles an hour when on the road, which is higher when compared to regular cars and trucks. They have better acceleration thanks to the low riding style and small factor-factor too. Bikes do so to get past vehicular traffic easily.

All this paired up makes them challenging to spot in the rear view mirror. They get merged into the blind spots of other vehicles on the road the easiest. 

Although bike riders follow traffic laws and traffic signal lights, the high-speed issue is one you should keep in mind. You should therefore pay extra attention to the road with motorcyclists. 

Why You Should Visually Check For Motorcycles When Changing Lanes

motorcycles when changing lanes

Now that you have a general idea about why motorcycles require special attention, let’s now go over what you need to do. In addition to checks on the side-view mirrors, you should visually check for bikes when changing roads.

They Easily Blend In

As discussed, they’re incredibly pesky and blend in naturally into any blind spot of other vehicles on the road. Even if you take a quick glance at the looking view mirrors, you might sometimes easily miss them. It might be the case that you’ve given yourself the green light through the side mirror, but the motorbike swooshes right by you without you noticing. On steep hills, this is seen as well. Pedestrians on a grooved pavement sometimes get spooked by quick motorbikes too.

As they’re incredibly quick, this can easily be the case if you aren’t careful.

Viewing Angle Of Mirrors

Viewing Angle Of Mirrors

Another aspect is the view angles of the side-view mirrors. They only cover a certain area and angle of the road. As motorcycles are incredibly fast, they can be a few meters behind the viewing angle of the mirrors, but still, catch up easily when you change lanes. 


The final point to pay attention to is the weather. Slippery surfaces. make it difficult when changing lanes. Approaching light-rail vehicles in bad weather can be hazardous too. Horse-drawn vehicle drivers should pay attention to the weather and change lanes on roads with motor vehicle drivers too. 

Precautions To Take Against Motorbikes

So, what’s the solution? You should take some preemptive measures whenever changing lanes —

  • A Visual + Side-Mirror Check

First, check on the side-view mirror for incoming traffic. If you’re lucky and well-experienced, you’ll notice motorbikes and know when you make the lane shift. But if you don’t find anything, make a visual, manual check. 

You should be smart and not check in the areas your side-view mirrors have already covered. Instead, look further behind down the road. Make a quick glance and notice if any bikes are present in the distance. If not, you can safely make the lane shift. read more, about how to install bar end mirrors?

  • Be Cautious Of Your Blind Spots

As a car driver, you should always be aware of the blind spots. Cars have more blind spots than other vehicles, which is why you find so many drivers manually turning their heads. You should always remember that the side-view mirror and the windshield mirror won’t always cut it when it comes to monitoring ongoing traffic. 

The general blind spots of a car are the extreme back and the lower sides on the back, next to the lower passenger doors. These are tricky to monitor using the mirrors when on the driver’s seat. Therefore, you should manually tilt your head and occasionally look through the passenger side windows to see if there’s traffic nearby — especially motorcycles.

  • Don’t Change Lanes Too Often!

This is probably the single most important advice for car drivers when on the road with motorbikes — change lanes only when you need to. As motorcycles move quicker on the road, they don’t stay in the same lane for too long and change frequently. You don’t want to encounter them in such a scenario, so your best bet is to make lane changes on a car only when you need to. 

A lot of drivers change lanes just for the sake of it. This is unsafe and causes trouble for other drivers and your own safety. A good portion of overall crashes happen during lane changes, 4% to be exact. These aren’t even on intersections or major thoroughfares. 

Therefore, you should only change lanes when you need to. And when you do, be sure to manually and visually check for motorcycles before making the shift.

Final Words

Hopefully, you won’t ever be asking anyone, why should you visually check for motorcycles when changing lanes? By being a bit aware and cautious of the challenges of being on the highway as a car driver, you can make necessary preemptive measures to save yourself and your loved ones from fatal crashes. 

As a final tip, I’d recommend watching out for sound queues to look out for motorbikes too. They move fast and usually leave a swooshing sound behind them. You can for example keep your windows open and watch out for bike noises to know if you have one nearby. 

And as always, keep a safe distance, follow traffic signs, and drive safe!

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