5 tips to help drivers safely pass bicyclists

By law, bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same rights and responsibilities as cars.

Today, there are more bikers on the road, whether they're commuting or getting exercise. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Admission (NHTSA) reported 743 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2017.

By law, bicycles on the road are considered vehicles and have the same rights and responsibilities as cars and trucks. While sharing with bicyclists can be frustrating, it's essential that every driver practice safe discretion to decrease the risk of collisions with bike riders.

Here are five safety tips to help drivers navigate around bicyclists.

1. Learn biker hand signals. Drivers should learn biker hand signals. When a rider points their left arm out, it means they're making a left turn. If they are making a right turn, they will hold their left arm upwards at a 90-degree angle. If they are slowing down or coming to a stop, a rider will place their left arm down at a 90-degree angle.

2. Be aware of your surroundings. Bicyclists face several challenges in sharing the road with other vehicles. Their biggest disadvantage is that they're smaller and not easily seen. For drivers, especially in urban areas, always check your surroundings, especially if you are making a turn near the biker's lane.

3. Don't honk. There is a lot of pressure on bicyclists who have to share the road with vehicles that are five times their size. If you find yourself behind a rider, don't honk. Honking could startle them and break their concentration, which could then lead to a devastating accident. Instead, slow down if you are behind them, or wait until it's safe to go around them.

4. Don't drive distracted. It's important to drive with as few distractions as possible. The time it takes to read a text message is the same amount of time it takes to drive the length of a football field at 50mph. You shouldn't drive with headphones or earbuds in either. Distractions not only put you at risk for colliding with other drivers but with bike riders too. You run the risk of running into them if you forget to slow down as they are turning, or you might not notice them in the bike lane.

5. Be patient. For some, driving is enjoyable. For others, it's one of the most frustrating things to do. Remember that bicyclists have a right to be on the road too and just like you, they have a destination to reach, so be patient with them. They will be patient with you. Patience will get you both through the trip.

For more driving and bicycling safety tips or if you want to see what your insurance options are, visit Donegal Insurance Group at https://www.donegalgroup.com/home.