With as much coordination, attention, and skill it takes to ride safely through all kinds of road conditions and traffic, the skills you develop riding a motorcycle make you a better car driver too. But in what ways exactly? We asked you what you thought on Facebook – here are some of your top responses!
1) Better Coordination
It might seem like second nature if you’ve been riding a while, but the truth is that a motorcycle requires a lot of skill and attention to ride. There’s a lot going on when you operate a motorcycle; you have to have good throttle and clutch control, operate a manual gearbox, and use two separate brakes, all while keeping the thing upright the whole time – even leaning through turns. And that’s before you ever even throw any traffic into the mix!
It may have been a while since you first threw a leg over a bike, but if you ride, give yourself a big pat on the back you can skillfully operate a complex piece of equipment, and that’s not something many people can do.
So do those skills transfer over into being able to operate an automobile more skillfully as well? Absolutely. Once you’re used to being “in tune” with your ride the way you are on a motorcycle, you tend to carry that awareness over to any vehicle you drive, making you a better driver all around.
2) You Drive More Defensively
Cars create a massive steel cage around their occupants, with things like seat belts and airbags to further protect them in case of any impact. So while nobody wants to get into an accident, all that protection can definitely lull many car drivers into a false sense of security, and lower their attention while on the road.
On a motorcycle, however, you know you have none of those things protecting you. In a battle of car vs. bike, the bike will lose every time, and the consequences of an accident are much higher for us riders! That’s why the philosophy of “riding like everyone is trying to kill you” works so well to create a defensive riding mindset; because when you get into the habit of anticipating the most dangerous situations that can possibly emerge while riding in traffic, you are better prepared to avoid them.
That mindset doesn’t just vanish when you hop in your car. Once you’re used to scanning the road for hazardous situations or dangerous drivers, you look for them no matter what vehicle you’re operating. You learn to never trust another driver with your own safety, and this makes you a better, more defensive driver.
3) You Have a Well-Developed “Sixth Sense”
No, we’re not talking about the “I see dead people” type of sixth sense here. We’re talking about those times when, for some strange reason, you just knew that person in the next lane was going to cut you off. For some reason, as you ride more, you just develop a better sense for what is about to happen on the road in a way that most car drivers don’t.
This “sixth sense” isn’t the same as simply being attentive and scanning for hazards. It’s a gut feeling you get; maybe you see things out of the corner of your eye, like someone checking their mirrors, or making a very slight change in speed, that indicates they might be about to move over. It could be that your subconscious picks up on things that you otherwise wouldn’t.
Whatever that sense is, skillful motorcycle riders develop it more, and its becomes a gift that is just as helpful when you’re driving a car as it is when you’re riding a bike.
4) More Aware of Weather and Road Conditions
A lot of drivers say they pay attention to the road. But unless they can tell you how many patches of gravel, sand or broken glass there were on their drive to work this morning, or where the oil spills tend to accumulate in a lane, or what patch of pavement has the most tar snakes or potholes – they don’t pay as much attention to the road as a rider does.
When there’s some bad weather in the forecast, car drivers might need to add a little additional time to their drives, and pack a coat or an umbrella. But when you’re a motorcycle rider, you need a whole extra level of preparation to deal with changes in weather you need to dress differently, pack different supplies, and ride differently to accommodate wet roads, cold tires, and even ice.
Simply put, when you ride, you reach a whole new level of awareness for weather and road conditions that you would never have to have driving a car. Once you’re tuned into those things, it becomes a habit to consider how they’ll affect your drive in your car too, making you a more prepared driver all around.
5) Check Blind Spots More Frequently
It might be a combination of how useless most motorcycle mirrors are along with how easy it is to look over your shoulder on a bike, but it seems like motorcycle riders do head checks a heck of a lot more often than car drivers do. Doing head checks is an essential part of safe riding – if you do happen to merge over into a car you didn’t see, you’re going to end up on the losing end of that situation!
Checking blind spots visually is something car drivers are taught to do, but it’s something an alarmingly small number actually practice before throwing their two or three ton mass of rolling metal into someone else’s path. Motorcycle riders are better about doing this; not only because its more of a habit for them, but also because of that hidden fear all us riders have of accidentally hitting a fellow rider when you’re in your car!
6) Quicker Reaction Time and Faster Decision Making
When you’re on a bike, you learn to scan the road more effectively. But because so many unexpected things do happen on a bike, you learn to react much more quickly as well. You also have more options on a bike. If an unexpected hazard pops out in front of you when you’re in your car, braking to a stop might be your only choice. But in a bike, you can brake to a stop, or you can swerve right, or swerve left, maintain speed, or accelerate and you have only a fraction of a second to decide what to do.
Nerve-wracking? Definitely, especially the first few times it happens to you. But once you ride for a while, you start to develop that quick decision-making ability that keeps you alive and rubber-side down, and you develop more confidence and better judgment on the road in general. This makes you a safer and better driver all around.
Much more dangerous is the timid and indecisive driver on the road as you never know how they’re going to react to a situation, and are much more likely to make a dangerous situation even worse.
7) Learn From Other People’s Bad Examples
When you ride, you see a lot more, because you’re paying a lot more attention. You see all the people texting; you see parents yelling at their kids in the back seat; you see people dozing off at the wheel; you see women doing their makeup on the way to work. You see it all!
Every example of unsafe driving you can imagine is demonstrated to you in living color every time you ride, and it can really make you shake your head at the things people get away with while operating a vehicle. So when you’re back in your car, you probably think twice about the things you see bad drivers do, and make sure to not do them because you know how unsafe, not to mention annoying, they really are. You don’t want to be “that guy,” especially when you see “that guy” (or girl!) every time you ride.
Do you think motorcycle riders make better car drivers? Why or why not?