Sitting in our cars, focussing on the car in front and the car behind, drivers can sometimes not pay enough attention to other more vulnerable road users.
Motorcyclists make up only 1% of total road traffic but account for 19% of all road user deaths¹, and the number of cyclists seriously injured has increased in recent years, faster than the increase in cyclists out on the roads². Most of these accidents involve another vehicle³.
So think bike! Make sure you know how to keep other road users – and yourself – safe.
Look carefully and look for longer, especially when you’re turning left or right. ‘Failure to look properly’ is the most common cause (42%) given in UK road accidents⁴. It can be tempting when another car pulls out to trust that they have looked but always read the road for yourself, rather than relying on other traffic.
Take longer to look for bikes and take a moment to look at this video as a reminder.
30 motorcyclists are killed or injured every day at junctions⁵ and 75% of cyclist collisions in Britain occur at or near junctions⁶. It’s vital to pay extra attention at junctions and be careful not to allow distractions – both inside and outside the car – to make you lose concentration. When you pull out, look out for motorcyclists and cyclists pulling out too.
Advanced stop lines (ASLs) are becoming increasingly common to make cyclists more visible, and you must stop at the first line when the traffic lights are amber or red, and give cyclists enough time and space to set off when the lights turn green.
3. Changing lanes and turning
Always double-check for bikes whether you’re turning left or right, they might pass you on either side. When changing lanes, be aware that a motorcyclist might be in the space you want to move into or moving in to it fast. Open your eyes to your blind spot and use your mirrors. Use your indicators to let bikes know what you’re planning to do. Also, when turning, be aware that a parked car or large vehicle can block your view of a bike.
4. Allow space
Leave plenty of space when you overtake a bike, at least as much as you would give a car, and drive slowly. Motorcyclists or cyclists might need to move out suddenly to avoid dangers on the road, such as potholes, or if it’s windy or a car door is opened.
Highway Code Rule 163 illustrates one car’s width below.
Also driving too close can intimidate a cyclist or less experienced motorcyclist. And always make sure you, and your passengers, check for bikes before opening your car door.
5. Slow down
At lower speeds, you are less of a risk to bikes and have more time to react in an emergency, such as a cyclist hitting a pothole. Take extra care to drive slowly in built up areas especially those without cycle lanes.
It can take a split second to turn without looking but that second can have huge long-term consequences for a vulnerable motorcyclist and cyclist – and for the driver.
Under UK law, causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving leads to a minimum mandatory 12 month ban and up to 5 years imprisonment⁷. And, if you’re convicted of causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving under the influence, the maximum sentence is 14 years imprisonment.
A case, that came to court in Cheshire in November 2014, showed the tragic consequences of a seemingly mundane incident which led to the death of a young motorcyclist and the imprisonment of the car driver. In sentencing, the Judge recognised the decency of the driver but said he was guilty of an ‘abject failure to see what was there’⁸.
It is a reminder to us all to make sure we take time to see what’s there.
Think Bike! And stay safe on the road.
Finally, on a more light hearted note, check out the following from the AA’s #ThinkBikes campaign
Remember …if you don’t check your mirrors and you don’t look properly, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Source:  http://think.direct.gov.uk/motorcycles.html
  http://think.direct.gov.uk/cycling.html
 http://theaa.com/aa-charitable-trust/think-bikes-campaign.html and Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2012
 brake.org.uk/info-resources/info-research/road-safety-factsheets/15-facts-a-resources/facts/1246-cyclist-safety and Reported road casualties Great Britain: annual report 2013, Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS20006
For more information on the AA’s Think Bikes! campaign see http://www.theaa.com/aa-charitable-trust/think-bikes-campaign.html