Posted on 11/04/2021 at 08:00 AM by The Biker Lawyers

Square image for a blog about motorcycle safe riding tips around semis

Sharing the Road with Semi's is Inevitable.

Most bikers prefer two-lane roads such as state highways and hard-surfaced county roads. There are times, however, when bikers end up rolling on the interstate highway system, where trucks are more prevalent. Regardless of the type of road, bikers need to constantly be aware of large trucking rigs.

Bikers should always be as visible to other vehicles as possible. Minimize the amount of time spent in blind spots. A truck has larger blind spots than an ordinary vehicle. These blind spots are referred to as the “No-Zone.” In the “No-Zone,” motorcycles and cars disappear from the view of the truck driver. The “No-Zone” is where a biker is most likely to become involved in a crash with a truck.

Here are some ways to avoid the “No-Zone,” and reduce the risk of personal injury from being involved in a wreck:

 

7. Stay out of the No-Zone... obviously.

6. Stay at least four seconds behind trucks.

There is a large blind spot directly behind the truck; when a vehicle follows too closely the trucker doesn’t know the vehicle is there. The four-second cushion ensures that the trucker can see following traffic, and it gives the biker time to react to anything the truck may do. If both of the truck’s side mirrors are not visible, the vehicle is following too closely.

5. Make sure there is plenty of space before changing lanes in front of a truck.

Semi tractor-trailers need much more space to stop than a car or motorcycle. After passing a truck, stay in the passing lane until at least a seven-second space is opened up. More is even better. As a rule of thumb, the entire front end of the truck should be visible in both motorcycle mirrors before changing lanes in front of it.

4. Don’t linger beside a truck.

When riding beside a truck, a motorcycle is most likely in a blind spot. Also, if the truck has a blow-out, a motorcyclist may be injured by flying debris. If passing a truck, pass quickly.

3. Pass on the left when possible.

The blind spot on the left side of the truck is smaller than on the right. The blind side on the right of the truck runs the entire length of the truck and extends as many as three lanes out. The only time passing a truck on the right is an option is on a road with multiple lanes in one direction. Given a choice, choose the left-hand lane whenever possible.

2. Maintain at least the seven-second barrier.

Once the truck is passed and the seven-second barrier is opened up, make sure it is maintained. Trucks naturally pick up speed when going downhill. If a truck has just been passed at the top of a hill, it's best to stay on the throttle to maintain the seven-second barrier, as the truck will pick up speed. Just like trucks pick up speed going downhill, they lose speed as they climb. The best bet is to pass the truck at the start of an incline. This is the best way to maximize the cushion between truck and motorcycle before the truck starts rolling downhill again. 

Now so far, you've read some pretty great tips to avoid turning your smooth ride into a nasty encounter with a big rig. We've saved arguably the best for last. If you remember nothing else from this article remember this...

1. The Three-Second Rule

Most drivers (regardless of what they’re driving) - when following another vehicle - don’t know what the correct following distance is.

It’s simple. Unless driving a big rig, the correct following distance is three seconds.

Why three seconds? Because it gives the following driver room to react to almost anything that happens with the lead vehicle. Consider this: It takes a driver 1.5 seconds to recognize and react to danger. That means that half of the three-second following distance is eaten up before the following driver begins to react to danger ahead.

Following any closer than three seconds behind another vehicle dramatically increases the chances of a crash if something goes wrong with the lead vehicle.

How to Follow the Three-Second Rule

To follow the three-second rule, pick a landmark as the lead vehicle passes it. Start counting … ‘one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.’

If the following vehicle gets to the landmark before the three seconds are up, it is following too closely and needs to back off.

Ever see reports of multi-vehicle accordion-like crashes? If all the drivers had been following the three-second rule (and paying attention), those crashes would likely not have happened.

Weather conditions affect the three-second rule. If it’s raining, or there’s snow or ice on the road, the following driver needs to back off even more. These can be life-or-death decisions.

Keep in mind that the danger is intensified when the lead vehicle is a motorcycle. If the motorcyclist has to brake hard to avoid hitting a deer, a following motorist who is not abiding by the three-second rule is probably going to rear-end the motorcycle. The consequence for the motorcyclist can be fatal.

Remember, the three-second rule applies to driving all vehicles, except big rigs.

Following the three-second rule lessens the chance of being involved in a rear-end collision. That’s a good thing for everybody.


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