Driving in the number one lane on the highway can reduce the risk of hitting the road and improve visibility for other drivers.
Checking your mirrors frequently and being aware of what is happening behind you is critical to safe highway driving.
Driving at traffic speed and maintaining a reasonable speed delta can give you more time and space to react to unexpected situations.
Riding a motorcycle fast is one of the best feelings in the world. Unlike many modern four-wheeled vehicles, bicycles require a certain level of skill and attention to ride fast in a safe and controlled manner. Whether the rider is riding one of the many great entry-level cruiser bikes on the market, the Harley Davidson with torque from the Gods, or on the latest and greatest Honda sport bike, these general tips for riding fast on the freeway apply.
This list contains general information with advice that is universally applicable in most situations. However, every situation in the real world is different and the rider must adjust these tips and determine the best course of action in any given situation. Good driving habits are essential to give drivers the best chance of avoiding a number of potentially dangerous hazards that come with driving at freeway speeds.
It’s impossible to control all variables while riding, but there are a few things that are within the rider’s control, such as speed, lane position, and space around the bike. Wearing high-quality motorcycle gear is an important backup plan if things don’t go as planned, but hopefully developing outstanding motorcycle riding skills will help you avoid having to rely on gear to save your skin, literally.
Driving on the highway at a good clip means tiny distances and the tiniest bit of extra time and space can ultimately be the difference between a collision and a near miss. This is a list of 10 tips for highway motorcycle safety. Keep the shiny side up!
10 Drive in lane number one
In short, driving in the number one lane means driving in the fast lane, usually the far left lane on the highway. On multilane highways, lanes are numbered from left to right. The far left lane, often the passing lane or fast lane, is lane number 1, the lane to the right of the fast lane is lane number 2, and so on.
Driving in the far left lane eliminates potential one-way hazards when cars appear only on the driver’s right. So when you’re racing one of the fast and comfortable cruisers that one dreams of driving at speed on the freeway, the threat of being cut off is essentially cut in half, or at least the direction from which that threat might come.
Another great advantage of driving in the fast lane is that in most cases cars expect to be passed on the left; weaving in and out of traffic is a great way to become another statistic of the driver who says he “just didn’t see the biker”. If you are driving very slowly, another lane may be safer, in which case lane number 2 may be the safest.
9 Check your six
Checking the six means looking behind you often and being aware of what’s going on behind you, especially in critical situations like heavy traffic or if a car is approaching very fast from behind on the freeway. Check your mirrors frequently when driving on the highway to allow faster cars or bikes to pass safely and to avoid confusing maneuvers by impatient drivers.
Being aware of your surroundings while driving on the freeway is essential, and a quick check in the mirror or a glance over your shoulder goes a long way in helping a driver get home safely. After all, some of the most iconic bikes deserve to be ridden more than once, and safe riding ensures that both the bike and the rider are able to do so.
8 Drive at the speed of traffic
Driving with the flow of traffic gives you much more time to react to the movements of a dumb cager. This significantly reduces the risk of being cut off when driving faster or slower than traffic.
Speed modulation is important in order to try to keep as much free space around the bike as possible, meaning the rider either maintains a constant speed to stay far enough ahead and behind the cars around them, or speeds up or slows down to maintain that cushion as the flow of traffic changes dynamically.
Of course, one of the benefits of riding insanely fast motorcycles is that they take up space faster and more efficiently than cars, so it’s just as important to learn the following tip.
7 Watch Speed Delta
The delta in this case refers to the difference between the speed of the driver and the speed of the other vehicle, so if the cars in the number two lane are traveling at 5 mph in heavy traffic and the driver is speeding past them in the number one lane at 70 mph, representing a huge difference in delta.
It only takes one car to cross into that driver’s lane, and the huge speed difference becomes a critical situation, as the driver must either try to brake as hard as possible, use an evasive maneuver, or a combination of both. None of these options are ideal.
Keeping the acceleration delta and lane separation delta relatively low allows more time and room for input, whether braking or evasion. Even motorcycles with the most advanced electronics and rider aids cannot stop the bike fast enough if the speed delta is dangerously high.
6 Only the lane divided between the first and two lanes
If drivers are lucky enough to live in a state where lane splitting is legal, the safest place to split is between the number one and number two lanes, which is to the right of the fast lane. Riding on the curb is illegal and should be avoided because, while it may seem less risky than riding between cars, it can present several dangers as dirt and debris naturally accumulates there, and if law enforcement sees you, it’s a guaranteed ticket .
Lane splitting is inherently risky, but riding between lanes one and two minimizes the risks as most drivers don’t expect bikes to split lanes between other lanes.
5 Use the entire lane
Riders can remember from DMV Directory that in each marked lane of the road there are three motorcycle lanes: left, center and right. Where the driver should be in the lane depends on the situation and maximizing space.
Distinguishing the center line on a two-lane highway puts you at risk of a head-on collision, and in this example it makes sense for the driver to be in the middle or right side of the lane. Driving in the number one lane on a multi-lane highway on the left side of the lane can provide extra space if a car cuts three lanes directly into your lane, and that 3-5 feet of extra cushion in the lane can make all the difference.
Similarly, driving in any lane other than the number one lane may result in the middle lane being the safest because it provides the most space between passing cars on either side of the driver. In this case, riders may want to take advantage of the outstanding acceleration provided by the best sportbikes on the market today and break out into the number one lane for the perfect highway lane.
4 Predict, predict, predict
Prediction may sound simple, but it’s extremely important in any driving situation, especially when you’re driving faster at highway speeds, which means things happen faster in real time. Riders must look beyond potential threats, whether it’s road debris, emergency situations, or bad drivers making risky maneuvers in the driver’s path.
Anticipation is one of the most important motorcycle safety tips because it avoids the need for superhero maneuvers and instead gives you time and space before a situation unfolds.
3 Drive like you’re invisible
The expectation that other drivers will not see you, and driving with this expectation, applies to all journeys on public roads. But, again, it is even more critical on the track, especially at night. The driver of the car may appear to be looking directly at the driver just before he moves directly into the path of the bicycle.
Motorcycles have tiny brake lights and headlights compared to cars, and drivers aren’t necessarily looking for the thin profile of a motorcycle. That’s why some of the best and most underrated motorcycle accessories include lights on rider helmets, which greatly improve the rider’s chances of being noticed, especially at night.
2 Do not drive in blind spots
Not driving in a car’s blind spot seems simple, but it still seems like drivers are driving in the blind spots of cars and trucks without realizing they’re in a dangerous situation. Semi trucks have huge blind spots and some cars have terrible blind spots too.
Riding behind and next to a car is never ideal, and if it cannot be avoided, then the driver must anticipate that the driver of the car will not be aware that the driver is nearby. The 2023 Ducati Multistrada V4 has blind spot detection technologywhich, according to official Ducati websitewarns the driver that there is a car or bike in the driver’s blind spot, an incredible feature that is a first for motorcycles.
1 Be alert
Again, paying attention applies to all types of driving, but is critical as speeds increase. When a driver becomes tired or distracted, road conditions can change, debris can appear, and hazards are constantly changing.
It’s very easy to get complacent and dream about driving one-handed how great it is to ride motorcycles. While it’s good to be relaxed and free riding, it’s always recommended to have an alert mind and a willingness to make the necessary adjustments.