Well, I just finished a 1,600-mile weekend. While I made it home in one piece, there were a few close calls. If you’re planning a trip over the holidays, you’re going to face the same challenges. Here’s what you need to know to overcome car driver fails.

Photo: Alexandre

One: Tailgating In The Rain

Riding down CA-46 in a torrential downpour, I had to slow down below the speed limit in order to ride safely. That’s a four-lane, divided highway, but automotive drivers didn’t necessarily feel the same about safety. Braking distances increase drastically in inclement weather and following distances should increase proportionately.

What You Can Do About It: Slow down even further. Don’t do anything unsafe by slowing rapidly, unpredictably or to an unnecessary degree, but shedding more speed will decrease braking distances, building back in the safety being sacrificed by tailgating.

Two: Changing Lanes Without Looking

You’re riding along through traffic, minding your own business, when a car driver suddenly decides they want to be in your lane and doesn’t bother looking first.

What You Can Do About It: First, leave a “safety” bubble around you as you interact with traffic, always giving yourself at least one, if not two escape routes. Second, try and remain conscious of the blind spots of cars you’re riding around and try to spend as little time in them as possible. Also avoid riding directly next to cars. When it comes time to pass one, just pass it, don’t hang around.

Three: Rolling Road Blocks

So there’s a truck going 10 mph under in the slow lane and a car doing the exact same speed next to it in the passing lane, it can back up traffic for miles.

What You Can Do About It: Plan ahead. When you have the opportunity, look miles down the road and try and overtake packs of slow-moving traffic before two groups meet one another.

Four: Errant Highbeams

Or, mis-adjusted low beams blinding you from behind at night.

What You Can Do About It: Tweak your mirrors outwards to show what’s in the lanes next to you, not directly behind. Just be aware of your blind spot changing shape and size as you do so. Bonus points if you can direct the light straight back in the driver’s eyes.

Five: Passing, Then Slowing

There you are, riding along at a precisely constant speed, while the drivers around you speed up and slow down constantly, passing you, only to slow right in front.

What You Can Do About It: Over the weekend, I was able to take a few minutes off from my chosen cruising speed while the offending drivers were in a fast period, allowing some gap to generate from them. This cleared them from my road space pretty reliably. I’d use this as time to stand up or otherwise achieve a little extra comfort.

Read More, Page Two >>

Related Links:

Avoid Tickets: 8 Ways To Stay Under The Radar

Pay Attention: How To Stay Alert On Long Motorcycle Rides

Sore Butt? How To Stay Comfortable On Long Motorcycle Rides

Six: Cutting Across Traffic To Make Off-Ramps

This one’s scary. In heavy traffic, a car will veer across one or more lanes at the last second, barely looking, to make a nearly-missed off-ramp.

What You Can Do About It: Stay alert, especially around off-ramps for major routes or remote service areas, where last minute veers are more likely. Remember, drivers that are not looking for you can’t see you.

Seven: Weaving Through Traffic Like A Bike

We’re small and agile, cars are huge and unwieldy, but they still think they can make it through traffic, often at high speed.

What You Can Do About It: Monitor traffic behind you frequently, looking out for weaving headlights or shapes, then move towards either shoulder to give the dangerous drivers plenty of space.

Eight: Washing Their Windshield In Front Of You

Know what you don’t need during a road trip? To get sprayed with heavy-duty solvents by the car in front of you.

What You Can Do About It: I like to try and inform all my car-driving friends that they can easily adjust the aim of their spray nozzles using a safety pin or needle, but a one-man awareness campaign is hardly an effective tool. Many gloves come equipped with rubber squeegees on the index finger, or you can add your own in the form of a V-Wipe.

Nine: Panic Breaking Every Time There’s A Cop

Oh no, a speed trap! Even though the cop put his radar on them seconds prior, most drivers subconsciously feel the need to slam on the brakes.

What You Can Do About It: Use your superior, uninterrupted vision and greater attention to spot speed traps way ahead of time (or at least their common locations behind overpasses) and give cars a little extra space. Bonus: no speeding tickets for you, the attentive motorcyclist.

Ten: Blocking On-Ramps

As you accelerate down the on-ramp, getting ready to merge into traffic, you find a car or cars directly in your path, blocking the traffic lane.

What You Can Do About It: Try and identify traffic behind you as soon as you’re at a place on the ramp where you can see, it, then plan your acceleration and merging accordingly. Planning, not reacting is the key to safe, easy highway riding.

What about you? What car driver fails annoy you the most on long road trips? And, more importantly, what do you do about them?

Related Links:

Avoid Tickets: 8 Ways To Stay Under The Radar

Pay Attention: How To Stay Alert On Long Motorcycle Rides

Sore Butt? How To Stay Comfortable On Long Motorcycle Rides

Got a tip for us? Email: tips@rideapart.com