FLICKED cigarettes, filtering fury and being TOO nice - these are the car driving habits most loathed by motorcyclists. The UK is about to get a sudden influx of two-wheeled machines, as bikes mothballed over winter return to warmer roads in the spring.
And because motorcyclists are 55 times more likely than car drivers to be killed or seriously hurt in an accident, according to Government stats, they’re more vulnerable than anyone on the road. So says Mark Tongue, Company Director of leading UK vehicle leasing firm Select Car Leasing.
He says: “This isn’t about bending over backwards to appease motorcyclists or giving them free reign of the roads. After all, there are things some bikers do which irritate car drivers - and other bikers! But this is about recognising the vulnerability of bikers and making car drivers better at recognising how their behaviours might create dangers.
“Many car users have really good intentions around motorcyclists. Some might even try too hard to help. While others simply aren’t aware that their road manners are causing motorcyclists to grip their handlebars tight with trepidation.”
Motorcycle use in the UK is actually increasing, too. According to Department for Transport data, there were 1,320,000 licenced motorcycles, scooters and mopeds on UK roads at the end of 2018 - a jump of 90,000 on 2017’s figures.
Here Mark and the Select Car Leasing team highlight some of the most common biking bugbears when it comes to car drivers:
Being too nice:
“A lot of car drivers see a motorcyclist in their rear-view mirror and think, ‘I’ll move over to the far left hand side of the road so that they can overtake with ease’. And that’s commendable. But there’s a couple of issues with it. Firstly, drifting over to the extreme edge of the road often kicks up dust, dirt and gravel - which then clatters into the motorcyclist. The biker might also have no intention of overtaking you - but they’re now in a position where they feel compelled to get past, even though it might not be safe to do so.”
“This is a common bone of contention. The art of ‘filtering’ refers to a form of overtaking or undertaking. Motorcyclists are permitted, by law, to filter through stationary or slow moving traffic - some even have to filter in order to pass their motorcycle test. But it’s a habit which irritates many drivers - either because they wrongly assume it’s illegal, or get hacked off about the biker ‘skipping the queue’. Some drivers even position their cars to block filtering bikers - which is incredibly dangerous. Let the biker through - they’re much safer at the head of the traffic."
“If you throw a cigarette out of your car window, you could face a hefty fine for littering. But you could also cause serious harm to a biker. If you’re on the motorway, in your car, you might think nothing about flicking your lit butt onto the road outside. But we’ve heard terrifying tales of lit cigarettes getting lodged under a motorcyclist’s helmet, or burning holes through clothes.”
Invitation to race:
“Yes, most sports motorcycles boast faster-acceleration than many cars. But not all motorcyclists want to race away from every set of lights. If you want to see how quick your car is compared to a motorcycle, take it to a track day, not the public highways."
“Many of us are guilty of tailgating, and often it’s done absentmindedly without any malice. But a small bump to the car in front could be catastrophic if it’s a motorcycle you ‘nudge’. Keep your distance. And also be aware that many newer bikes with sophisticated traction control can stop quicker than older cars, too.”
Middle of the roaders:
“We recently polled UK motorists. And we found many are complaining that drivers are drifting in their lane, or accidentally driving over the middle divider line, much more frequently than in years gone by. Whether drivers are avoiding potholes, or simply distracted by their phone, it’s clearly dangerous for all. And it could be fatal for bikers, who often need to use the full width of their side of the road in order to negotiate bends successfully.”
“Sometimes motorcyclists don’t do themselves any favours by sitting in the blind spots of car drivers on the motorway. But car drivers who change lanes without looking properly, or bothering to indicate, terrify anyone on two wheels. Car drivers also need to really watch out for motorcyclists at junctions - as it’s a road location well known for fatalities.”
“If you blindly open your car door into traffic, then you should have a word with yourself. It’s obviously a hazard for car drivers, but potentially deadly for both bikers and cyclists. Make sure you, and your passengers, look before pulling the handle.”
Main beam forgetfulness:
“Again, this is something that annoys anyone on the road, not just motorcyclists. But if a biker is already struggling with a fogged-up visor from the cold weather, and then a car approaches with his lights on main beam, he’s essentially rendered blind.”